NALCO, a Navaratna PSU, under the Ministry of Mines, has embedded social development in its core business practices. As a responsible corporate citizen, it has been delving deep into the realms of sustainable approaches to deal with the grave social issues of the nation. Women empowerment is one of the most pressing concerns in a developing country like India. Though women constitute almost 50% of the population of the country, they have not been empowered enough to get equal opportunities in realizing their fullest potential. Women empowerment helps to make the society and world a better place to live in and march forward on way to inclusive participation. NALCO realizes that education, motivation and skill development will contribute towards the empowerment of women in the long run. The company is making efforts towards promoting education of girls and skill development of women so as to develop in them the spirit of entrepreneurship and to make them employable. Some of the initiatives taken by the company that aims at improvement of livelihood of women and thereby empowerment, are: • Skill development training. • Livelihood Promotion of Women Weavers. • Women Empowerment through Self- Help Groups.
Under the Skill India initiative, NALCO has adopted a multi-stakeholder approach towards skill enhancement of the rural unemployed youths. Under this endeavour, the company has imparted training on trades like-Beauty Therapy, Sewing Machine Operation, Retail Sales Associates and Hospitality Management, to name a few. Some 79 young women are undergoing training, out of which 26 have already been placed after successful completion of training; 15 women have started their own business by utilising the skills on which they were trained.
Livelihood Promotion of Women Weavers
Some 82 women artisans have been provided with mechanised spinning wheel (Charkha) for the livelihood promotion of women weavers through Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC). This mechanised wheel will enable them to produce more within limited time with less drudgery. This will lead to enhancement of their productivity and help them to earn surplus money which will ultimately lead towards improvement in their standard of living.
Women Empowerment through Self-Help Groups
The emergence of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) comes as a revolution in the area of women empowerment. Especially in the rural areas, a positive change is unfolding due to the formation of women into these small groups. It has been a successful model and an established platform for development of women. NALCO Foundation is also replicating this model in the hilly terrains of Damanjodi. The tribal women are organized into SHG groups with defined objectives and are then facilitated to avail and access various information and services of the government. It has successfully revived SHGs in the deprived areas of Pottangi block in Odisha. The company has borne the cost for training these deprived women in mushroom cultivation which is a cash product and can easily be produced within limited resources and time. The women from 18 SHGs are now brimming with confidence. They are able to generate income through these blooming mushrooms. Besides, NALCO has taken steps to coordinate and help these women to get access to various departments of the government. like horticulture for availing quality seeds for the promotion of kitchen gardening which will not only help in giving supplementary nutrition but also enable them to sell the surplus produce to generate extra income. Fruit bearing saplings like guava, mango, lemon and jackfruits have been provided to the women, which will help them generate some extra income and also preserve the natural habitat.
NALCO Foundation’s intervention at a crucial juncture is helping women from the rural areas around its plant location in the tribal-dominated Koraput district of Odisha. Now, a promising future awaits these women.