On The Occasion Of International Women’s Day CSR TIMES Presents Couple Of Top Women In The Corporate Social Responsibility Sector In India & Their Views On Equality For Women Is Progress For All
MS. DEEPA MENON
It is not just half the sky that they hold up but more than that. It is a proven and accepted fact that women’s empowerment and their contribution are vital for sustainable progress of all our nations, and the world. Strengthening women’s voice at all levels and in all areas is quintessential and a precondition for sustainable development. While women’s empowerment demands gender equality, it is not a set of commitments reflected in legal and policy documents but a terrain of social, cultural and legal struggles that cannot be won without changing the larger social and economic structures of the society.
When many are only entrenched in this idea of a nation free of gender bias, accomplished and influential women have taken on the baton of change to transform it into a more women vested society. The socially enabled, address causes in the interest of women empowerment, amplify the voice of change and propell initiatives condoning practices and rationale of patriarchy. In their own capacity, these social influencers bring in the difference by advocating and working towards full realization of women’s human rights and their full & equal participation and leadership in the economy that are vital to achieve inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development.
Deepa Menon is associated with PVR as the Sr. VP – Corporate Communications & CSR, PVR Ltd and holds the designation of founder head of PVR Nest, a CSR initiative of PVR Ltd., India’s largest film exhibition company. Currently, she manages the Corporate communications for the company in addition to overseeing the Social Responsibility program of PVR to obtain the socio – economic sustainability in the society through the cinema exhibition platform. Core areas of PVR Nest are to promote education, healthcare, nutrition and rehabilitation of children at risks in the urban areas especially around PVR Cinemas and foster the largest film-based education program (Cine-Art), where we partner with local communities, corporate, government bodies, NGOs and INGOs to build programs to mitigate the issues and challenges our communities face.
MS. NEELIMA KHETAN
“Sunder Gadolia is the first woman in her community to study engineering. She is in her 2nd year of her Chemical engineering course and aspires to be an IAS officer. Bhawri Devi is a widow who lives alone because she is separated from her son’s family. But today she has found another larger family … she looks forward to 8 pm on every Saturday because that is when the group meets in her courtyard. Women who till a few months ago were confined to the four walls of their homes, shy to speak with any outsiders are now organizing other women, helping them to realize their dreams and a new confidence. Women are coming together at the village level working on development issues, finding the resources to start new enterprises or expand existing ones, and finding friendships. Girls are playing football and aspiring to be national champions.
So much is happening .. I am only speaking of what we are seeing every day in our CSR work at HZL .. even within the company, there are more and more women in senior positions. In many ways, these are good times to be a woman. Of course challenges remain, but there are also heart-warming stories of change all around us. On this International Women’s Day, we would like to call out to all women and men to make it an even stronger and wider story of change for women and humanity.”
Neelima Khetan is the Group CSR Head for Vedanta Resources Plc, a global diversified resources company. In this capacity, she provides oversight and guidance to the CSR efforts of 11 business units of the Group across India and Africa. She is also Vice President, CSR at Hindustan Zinc (which is part of Vedanta). HZL is a world leader in zinc production, as also lead and silver. HZL has a long history of working for community betterment, and is among the Top-20 CSR spenders of the country. Neelima joined Vedanta in November 2015.
DR. NUZHAT ALI
Equitable opportunities for education and economic empowerment are intertwined with women’s right to live with dignity. Nothing, more than education and meaningful employment, has the potential of breaking down the walls built around women. Education is instrumental in helping women defy stereotypes which may block their potentially bright future.
Hundreds and thousands women associated with the CSR & Sustainability world who are passionate and desirous to change the world around them, not only carve a niche for themselves but also present an empowering role model for making a difference at the ground. We at Aricent, are committed to making the IT and ITeS domain more accessible for under-privileged women engineering students.
Dr. Nuzhat Ali, is the Director CSR at Aricent, which is world’s largest pure-play Engineering Company. With a vision – ‘Engineering the future’, the company is contributing to the technology-based economy through its multifaceted CSR program.
MS. MEENAKSHI BATRA
A lot has been said about how equal opportunity for women in all spheres of lives helps us perform better as a society. Be it the country’s economic growth, corporate performance, peace agreements or our legislative bodies or local panchayats. Research and documented evidence supports this view strongly. Clearly, ‘Equality for women is progress for all’. However reality remains different and there are glaring gaps; be it opportunities for education, health or even right to life or representation in parliament or corporate jobs; women have lesser opportunities and those who do manage to get in have to work doubly hard to make it through.
Government of India has been proactively working towards reducing gender gaps through special schemes for women. The call for action by our Prime Minister on Beti Padao, Beti Bachao, has been backed with a number of schemes for girls and women to enable them to access opportunities. This is bringing about a change, but a slow one, since the mind set at society level, especially in certain geographies remains discriminatory. Some of the states such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and others continue to perform badly on gender indicators. The violence against women and unequal access to development opportunities remains a reality for a large number of women.
The CSR committees and CSR management teams of corporates need to be cognizant of this situation while making decisions about their CSR projects. Often it is our experience that there is very little focus on working with women. Occasionally one comes across some specially designed projects for women however there is a general lack of gender analysis of projects. While its important to fund special projects for women, its equally important for the CSR Boards and management teams to ensure that their projects do not have a negative impact on women. The gender and social dimensions of the projects need to be well considered while focussing on achieving targets. The gender and social dimensions are critical for success. My recommendation for CSR committees of the corporates is the ensure that their planning processes incorporate gender and social analysis as an integral part of their planning, management, review and evaluation processes.
Meenakshi Batra is a seasoned and widely recognized international development professional with over two decades of multifarious experience globally. Her expertise includes providing strategic leadership, organizational development and sustainability, program development and management, external relations, resource mobilization, policy advocacy, campaigns and networking in the international development, corporate social responsibility and non-profit sector.
Currently Meenakshi is CEO of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India. CAF India is part of Global Alliance of CAF organizations.
Previously, Meenakshi has served in various leadership roles with International Development and humanitarian agencies in many parts of South and Southeast Asia including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Meenakshi has successfully led large country programs in India, Afghanistan and Indonesia. She has additional international experience in United Kingdom, Philippines, Vietnam and Iraq.
She has served as Country Director for Save the Children in Afghanistan, Country Director for Child Fund International in India and Indonesia, and a similar role for War Child UK and War Child Canada in Afghanistan. She has also worked with Oxfam, DFID (UK Aid) KRIBHCO Indo-British Rain-fed Program and National Labor Institute (GOI).
Meenakshi holds a Post Graduate degree in Child Development and Family Welfare. Meenakshi has undertaken advanced studies in the areas of Environment Education (Centre for Environment Education), Gender and Social Development (London School of Economics and Wye College UK) and Leadership Development. She now works and lives in New Delhi.
MS. AKANKSHA SHARMA
I personally don’t believe in boundaries of any kind and gender is one of them. If you really want to do something, no one can stop you. History is full of such examples in all ages. Today, we live in a more fractured world and are caught up in many kinds of biased views on almost everything. Gender is just one of them and its impact is hard to pin down with just one lens as the barriers are more deeply rooted and persistent than we would every like to believe.
Hence, I strongly believe that Inclusion and Gender Diversity should actually be considered as a development indicator of any unit, organization or country. Its important to break barriers and make not only corporates and organizations more inclusive but we need to work at individual level and lead this change through examples.
Akanksha Sharma is an internationally acclaimed CSR & Sustainability Leader and is a leading voice on Corporate Diplomacy. She is also a writer and a “Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.”
Akanskha heads CSR and Sustainability for Jubilant Foodworks currently and has worked with UNICEF and other leading corporates in the past. She is noted amongst ‘100 Most Impactful CSR Leaders Globally’ by World CSR Congress, ‘Young CSR Leader’ by India CSR in 2016 and is also conferred with the “Sustainability Leadership Award” by the World Sustainability Forum.
She is a regular writer for Times of India, Economic Times and Huffington Post amongst many others on Corporate Diplomacy, Development, Responsible Business, CSR and other issues. She also writes a popular Peace Series for India and Pakistan which gets published in the Dawn (Pakistan). Akanksha is also a “Peace Ambassador” of an international organization, Postcards for Peace, a UK based organization. She is also a ’Global Climate Force Ambassador’ and was chosen to represent India on “International Expedition on Climate Change at Antarctica” in 2017
MS. RINIKA GROVER
As we move towards the deadline of SDG’s, Gender parity (Goal 5), gains a significant spot. According to WEF’s gender gap index, it will take 100 years before women achieve equality, and particularly India’s score is far below average in comparison to other countries such as its neighbours. It is also a fact that bridging this gap can boost India’s GDP by over 25%. This year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit theme resonated the same message with esteemed world leaders participating and carrying the message forward.
A lot is being spoken on the topic as we continue our efforts to ensure women empowerment. It is a domino effect. Sometimes the smallest contribution by that one woman is able to bring about a complete transformation. This is evident from the success story of Pushpa Ramesh Mohit, who under the Apollo Tyres Foundation project Navya was able to initiate her own business and provide employment to over 25 women in village.These stories act as a reaffirmation for us to continue such work .
Rinika started her career as a special educator for differently abled children, where she taught them and also counselled their parents. She has spent a substantial part of her career working in the UK, with various NGO’s. She has a Masters in Management and Information Systems from University of Manchester, and also pursued professional courses on Programme and Change management.
After working for over a decade in the UK, she returned back to India in a new role with Apollo Tyres, where she Heads the Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Department. She has concentrated her work in the area of Health for truck drivers, Waste-Sanitation Management, Women Empowerment theme and Biodiversity. The women Empowerment theme, recently established under Navya banner, is one of her favourite pieces of work and extremely invigorating due to the tangible and quantifiable impact the programme has started to bring about in the field