The recent episode of CSR Dialogues hosted by Teamlease Education Foundation centered around the topic "Economic Empowerment of Women in India." In this enlightening session, Joel Fernandez, Chief of Partnerships & Strategy, TeamLease Education Foundation, had a thought-provoking conversation with Nivedita Kannan, the Head of People Function at Mudrex. Ms. Kannan brought her 14 years of experience and insights into creating sustainable and meaningful people practices in organizations. The conversation touched upon critical challenges in implementing CSR initiatives aimed at empowering Indian women through skilling, the role of technology, measuring effectiveness, and leveraging partnerships with educational institutions and vocational training centers.
Challenges in implementing CSR initiatives
Joel initiated the conversation by asking Nivedita Kannan about the key challenges faced in implementing CSR initiatives aimed at empowering Indian women through skilling. She highlighted the struggle for acceptance and building awareness as significant hurdles. Smaller organizations, in particular, often find it challenging to establish a sustainable CSR agenda. The need for active participation and genuine commitment from employees was emphasized. She advocated for a more hands-on approach to engage employees and build more substantial buy-in for CSR initiatives.
Ms. Kannan also emphasized the need for progress in overcoming patriarchy and gender inequalities, criticizing the idea of relying solely on the government for change. In response to it, Joel Fernandez stated that change must begin at the individual level and can accumulate to create a significant impact. Ms. Kannan suggested simple acts like supporting house helpers' children's education and donating unused electronic devices to provide better opportunities. Joel agreed, emphasizing the importance of funding house-help's education to break the cycle of generational inequality. Watch the snippet here.
Role of technology in women's empowerment
The discussion shifted to the role of technology in overcoming challenges and enhancing the impact of CSR programs focused on women's skill development. Ms. Kannan acknowledged that technology and digital outreach have significantly widened their reach, making it easier to expose underserved communities to experiences they may not have had otherwise. The conversation emphasized the importance of embracing technology to bridge gaps in education and skills training. Digital tools, such as AI-powered platforms, were seen as valuable resources to provide access to quality education in remote areas. Watch the snippet here.
Measuring and evaluating CSR impact
Evaluating the effectiveness of CSR initiatives was another topic of great interest during the conversation. Ms. Kannan stressed the need for companies to be directly involved in monitoring and assessing the impact of their programs. She shared an example of Mudrex's approach to sponsoring girl child education, where they actively partnered with an organization and tracked progress reports to ensure their contributions translated into tangible benefits for the recipients. This hands-on approach not only ensures accountability but also fosters a culture of giving back within the organization. Watch the snippet here.
Leveraging partnerships for impact
The conversation also highlighted the importance of partnerships and collaborations with educational institutions and vocational training centers to enhance the outcomes of CSR initiatives focused on women's skill development. Ms. Kannan emphasized that partnering with organizations experienced in working with underserved communities can be immensely valuable. These partners can provide insights, advice, and even execute CSR agendas more effectively, especially in regions where the company might lack local expertise.
From this insightful conversation between Joel Fernandez and Nivedita Kannan, it's evident that the economic empowerment of women in India is a multifaceted challenge that requires collaborative efforts and innovative solutions. As we continue to work towards empowering women in India, let's remember that small actions and collaborations can collectively make a significant difference in improving the lives of women across the country. Empowering women is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic investment in the nation's future. Watch the snippet here.