(Leiden, The Netherlands) The IKEA Foundation has pledged €30 million for a programme to empower 2.2 million poor rural women in India. The money will allow United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to reach 2.2 million women and their families in approximately 20,000 villages in some of India’s poorest districts.
The UNDP’s Swaayam (Sanskrit for ‘self reliance’) empowerment model was initiated two years ago in a pilot programme funded by the IKEA Foundation in 500 villages in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, successfully reaching approximately 50,000 women to strengthen their abilities to become catalysts of change.
“When I visited the project I was inspired by the women who are leading the change in these villages. It is a powerful reality that when women are empowered, so are their children, their families and their entire communities,” said Mr. Per Heggenes CEO of IKEA Foundation. “The UNDP has shown that innovative thinking and management can create lasting change for women and children in Uttar Pradesh, and we are proud to support their efforts to scale up and bring change to millions more women and children in India.”
The pilot has already helped 35,000 women participate in a diverse array of businesses from dairies to craft production. In addition it has provided training on financial literacy and business management creating over 12,000 financially literate women and 4,000 entrepreneurs. The new grant will allow UNDP to reach 2.2 million women and help them to improve their ability to become entrepreneurs and to create and own assets.
Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UNDP Resident representative and UN Resident Coordinator in India pointed out, “Empowerment of women is a key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and bringing about transformational change and the India project is an excellent example of this strategy.”
The pilot programme has demonstrated that when women’s economic empowerment is combined with legal and political awareness, they become catalysts for lasting change. Speaking about the partnership Coeur-Bizot said, “We value the partnership with the IKEA Foundation greatly and look forward to taking the learning to help two million more women develop their own solutions to build resilient communities.”
About IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in developing countries by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently-funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. With offices in more than 160 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.
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