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Celebrating Womanhood – International Women’s Day

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Fiinovation – How MNC’s are Contributing Towards Women Empowerment in India?

In the last two decades, their has been significant emergence of MNCs. The fast food outlets such as Mc Donald’s, KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Burger King, etc. are now present even in smaller cities. Their emergence has led to an unique method of empowering women of the country.

For these MNCs, recruitment of women is almost necessary as they don’t want to run their businesses with only men. In this regard, they hire women to maintain a gender balance among the employees. Although, the plan seems to be good, but in a country like India, it is not that easy to find good women employees. It is a nation where women are not encouraged much to work outside their homes. Therefore, several MNCs are going off track to attract women employees by providing them with activities which ultimately helps them to get empowered.

The difference can be witnessed easily. A visit to the Delhi’s malls will make you witness women workforce in the outlets, whereas in a market place the women’s clothing stores are manned by men. Ironically, we do not observe women at these stores. Despite years of progress, India still has a skewed sex ratio and its tough place to be a women. There is a vast difference in the way things use to be and specially now after the emergence of MNCs.

Understanding the situation, the American food chains are doing a bit more than expected to ensure that they are able to employ more women. From allowing their parents to see the workplace to even taste the new burger about to be launched, these companies are doing a lot to attract women employees. Fiinovation, a global CSR consulting company understands that people around the world would be unaware about the hardship that these companies are putting in to cultivate female employees.

Fiinovation believes, going off track food chains such as Burger King teaches self defense to its women employees. Similarly, Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell run a mentorship program to help the women employees. Even Mc Donald’s appoints a “Female Confidant” at every outlet to ensure the women talk more freely about their lives and family problems. Apart from these, steps are even taken to give mothers flexible working hours.

These things are changing the way businesses operate in India. With more females joining the workforce, the societal hurdles are bound to reduce in the coming years. Fiinovation also believes that these affirmative action initiatives by the MNCs is a significant step towards empowerment of women in this country. With India being a prominent member of G20, it should lead by example for other emerging economies to follow.

Therefore, let us hope that in future, other businesses will implement similar initiatives that will help the country grow inclusively.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Fiinovation Observes – International Volunteer Day

Across the globe, several initiatives are being implemented to solve prevalent issues of the society. The International Volunteer Day or International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development provides an opportunity for volunteers (both individuals as well as institutions) to contribute at local, national and international levels towards achievement of the socio-economic and environmental goals.

The day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly through a resolution on 17th December, 1985. Every year on 5th December, the day provides opportunities to volunteers for causes such as eradication of poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, degradation of the environment, discrimination against women, etc. Over the years, the International Volunteers Day has been utilised strategically by governments and corporations to encourage volunteerism aligning them with the Millennium Development Goals.

Fiinovation, with its vast experience in social development initiatives, has been encouraging corporations to urge their employees to volunteer for social causes. Although, cost involved in volunteerism doesn’t fall under the CSR rules in India, yet it is definitely a positive process to engage with the local communities. It is observed that volunteers around the world work tirelessly to craft a better future for everyone, especially during crisis situations. On this day, Fiinovation acknowledges the efforts of more than 6700 UN volunteers, 12,000 UN online volunteers and 1 billion community volunteers for their selfless contribution in the upliftment of society.

Understanding the prevalent crisis situations such as in the middle-east, Africa and other parts of the world, volunteers have risen up and provided shelter and requisite support to millions of refugees who have been forced to flee from their homes. The floods in Haiti and malaria outbreak in Sri Lanka are examples in the recent months where volunteering has helped in saving thousands of lives. “Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expecting any material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose,” was the message from UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. In his message he pressed on the need to lend a hand and applauded volunteers for their commitment towards building a peaceful, prosperous and a dignified future for all.

Fiinovation believes that the role of volunteers will be crucial in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Therefore, let us all increase the awareness of voluntary contributions, thereby motivating more people from different walks of life to offer their services as volunteers.

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Five Most Controversial Cases Related to Women in India

1. Shah Bano case, was a controversial maintenance lawsuit in which a 62-year-old Muslim mother of five from Indore, was divorced by her husband in 1978, where she won the right to alimony from her husband in Supreme Court. However, pressure from Islamic orthodoxy ensured the court order was rejected by parliament because the judgement in favour of the woman in this case evoked criticisms among Muslims some of whom cited Quran to show that the judgement was in conflict with Islamic law. It triggered controversy about the extent of having different civil codes for different religions, especially for Muslims in India. This case caused the Congress government, with its absolute majority, to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 which diluted the judgment of the Supreme Court and, in reality, denied even utterly destitute Muslim divorcées the right to alimony from their former husbands.

2. The Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra Case of February 15, 1983 was a historic judgment that dealt with the issue of custodial violence against women in prisons. This resulted in an order facilitating separate police lockups for women convicts in order to shield them from further trauma and brutality.

3. Jessica Lal was a model in New Delhi, who was working as a celebrity barmaid at a crowded socialite party when she was shot dead at around 2 am on 30 April 1999. Dozens of witnesses pointed to Siddharth Vashisht, also known as Manu Sharma, the son of Venod Sharma, a wealthy and influential Congress-nominated Member of Parliament from Haryana, as the murderer. In the ensuing trial, Manu Sharma and a number of others were acquitted on 21 February 2006. Following intense media and public pressure, the prosecution appealed and the Delhi High Court conducted proceedings on a fast track with daily hearings conducted over 25 days. The trial court judgment was overturned, and Manu Sharma was found guilty of having murdered Lal. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on 20 December 2006.

4. Bhanwari Devi (also spelled Bahveri Devi) is an Indian dalit social-worker from Bhateri, Rajasthan, who was allegedly gang raped in 1992 by higher-caste men angered by her efforts to prevent a child marriage in their family. Her subsequent treatment by the police, and court acquittal of the accused, attracted widespread national and international media attention, and became a landmark episode in India’s women’s rights movement.

5. Vishakha and others v. State of Rajasthan was a 1997 Indian Supreme Court case where Vishakha and other women groups filed Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against State of Rajasthan and Union of India to enforce the fundamental rights of working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The court decided that the consideration of “International Conventions and norms are significant for the purpose of interpretation of the guarantee of gender equality, right to work with human dignity in Articles 14, 15 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution and the safeguards against sexual harassment implicit therein. The judgment of August 1997 provided the basic definitions of sexual harassment at the workplace and provided guidelines to deal with it.

Rahul Choudhury

Media Team

Fiinovation

More than just a pretty face

Large eyes, small nose, full lips, fair skin and a slim body are the features of a beautiful woman? Well, at least that’s what the society tells us. Beauty has been molded by society, by advertisers, fashion and cosmetic industry. We live in a society of billboards, ads, photoshop and botox. We are trained to believe the things society throws at us. This obsession with beauty has led to a world where women exhaust themselves to cope up with the photo shopped figures and with perfect features  in the ads. Men with salt and pepper hair are considered distinguished and wise but women, however they may look and whatever age they must be, are not acknowledged for their appearance. We must realise that their true accomplishments go beyond their appearance.

There is so much more to women than just their physical appearance. It’s a fact that today women have made a name for themselves in every sector throughout the world. Women’s position in the society has risen from a house-maker to a position of a leader, be it in their personal space or professional one. As more and more women are emerging as leaders, the society which underestimated them for centuries is now pushing it’s self towards feminism. From farming to rocket science, from running marathons to flying airplanes and from nursing to wrestling, name the profession and you will see women prove their mettle. With the passage of time, women have proved to be a better multi-tasker than men. Today, women juggle between work and office and still maintain a good balance in life.

Despite all these accomplishments, the society still remains obsessed  with  their physical appearance. On television, the women are projected like commodities and products and are objectified to sell goods. Logically, a car advertisement does not require a girl in swimsuit, an advertisement for men’s deodorants does not call for the need to show girls in short dresses waiting to jump on him, girls in the film industry are also actors then why are they called item girls. They say “what we see in movies is the reflection of our society” and if this is the society we have created then we must change it. Let’s just not be victims of marketing strategies of billion dollar cosmetic firms which manipulates our perception of beauty to achieve their bottomline. Let’s break the shallow idea of beauty which asks a woman to have polished nails, white complexion and expensive dresses.

We should revisit our definition of beauty, which should be in the confidence in which a woman carries herself and in the ways she is contributing to the world to make it a better place to live in.

By – Karan Pundir

Media & Communication,

Fiinovation

Role of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in poverty alleviation

Empowerment through "Self Help"

Empowerment through “Self Help”

Self Help Groups (SHGs) evolved through the Grameen Bank model in Bangladesh in the late 1970s. Self Help Group, as the name suggests, was an idea which aimed at women empowerment through “Self Help”. The SHG model focuses on inter-loaning and group savings generally among rural women to increase financial independence and as a measure for poverty alleviation.

There has been a mixed response as far as the success of the SHG model in India is considered. Experienced Social workers feel that the credit linkage schemes run by large banks are the reason for the failure of many of the groups. Banks have set up specialized cells which deal with SHG loans and credits. These cells have annual targets of loan disbursal, and the managers to fulfill their targets generally push loans on to SHGs. Newly created SHGs generally agree to the loans and are seen as defaulting on their loans.

It was envisaged that SHGs would empower women folk by bringing them together and enabling the creation of multiple rural micro-enterprises. The initial few months/years are used as capacity building for the women to work in groups as this is the most challenging aspect of a formation of a SHG. Behavior change, as we know, is the most difficult outcomes to achieve in a development sector programme. Once the women are acquainted with working in groups, and the group dynamics are somewhat stable, then they are taken to the next level of developing a business plan, or are trained in specific trades which act as the foundation for setting up an enterprise.

Many organizations in India have been extensively working in the field of women empowerment through SHGs. The most common observation from these organizations has been that once the women reach the stage of financial stability, they become more confident and aware of their rights. When they become aware, they demand, this demand has seen many a changes in the rural areas of the country wherever SHG model has been a success.

The Self Help Group model for poverty alleviation has been a success wherever it was implemented in a manner as it was envisaged in the beginning, and has been a failure with many lessons wherever it was implemented with an agenda to only alleviate poverty from a region.

By -Vipin Vijayan

Sr. Prog. Manager

Fiinovation

 

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Fiinovation – International Women’s Day, 2014

Fiinovation - International Women's Day, 2014

On International Women’s Day, Let’s celebrate the importance and achievements of women in our everyday life.

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality for Women is Progress for All”.

We should take immense pride in raising our voices for empowerment of women in the world.

Team Fiinovation acknowledges the power of women…