Globalization and the advent of internet have opened up avenues for Indian women. They now know that there is a big world out there where there is a place for everyone. The resonance of a global, competitive world has reached the far remote Indian villages where women are conscious and aware of the importance of quality education, healthy upbringing and the dignified source of livelihood. Empowerment is the end to which access is the means. Access means differently to different women. The ultimate struggle for access is to be empowered and living the life one wants. It is in the endeavor of the aforementioned that Centre for Social Research (CSR) made a 20 minute documentary film on the theme ‘Access is Empowerment – Narratives of Indian Women’. The film received enthusiastic response and audience from over 12 countries at the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. Since the social media access for Indian women is low (approx 23 percent), the film celebrated the power of internet and social media in improving lives.
The film celebrates the triumph over problems of four brave women who struggled through poverty, deprivation and domestic violence. CSR supported Salma to help her overcome an abusive marriage. Salma further armed herself with knowledge of internet and today she not only sells footwear online, but also learns to make trendy ones through YouTube tutorials. Pallavi availed the training provided by CSR to become a trained security guard in order to financially contribute to her family and give better life to her children. Pallavi’s husband died of a neurological condition, leaving her dependent on his family for sustenance. She felt empowered through her training at CSR to not only overcome financial problems but also demand the rights for her children, from her husband’s family. Savita is a strong ally of CSR in ensuring mitigation of domestic violence in her neighborhood. Savita is a tailor by profession and imparts the skill to young girls. In return, the young girls use internet to access apparel tutorials to upgrade Savita’s tailoring skills. Krishna started out to earn a livelihood at the age of 7 years as a domestic maid servant. At the age of 14 years, she was married off. When her life hit a difficult patch with a premature and ill new born baby, a paralytic husband and no income; she was encouraged by Centre for Social Research to start working as a beautician and earn money for her family. Krishna not only got her professional skills updated but is also raising a daughter to be a fine, educated woman who helps Krishna learn new techniques over internet.
The Director of UN Women, Aparna Mehrotra appreciated the film, “It is a powerful story of courage and resilience.” Centre for Social Research would like to thank Facebook for their continued encouragement, facilitation and support towards initiatives that enables Indian storytelling to global audience.
Since the year 1996, Centre for Social Research (CSR) has been an ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) member with the United Nations. As part of ECOSOC, CSR is conscious of aligning its initiatives for gender equality with that of United Nations’ overarching goals and purposes (i.e. Sustainable Development Goals). In the last few years, CSR has been an active participant in the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that convenes every year to promote “women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women”. CSR had also contributed to the United Nations’ Third and Fourth World Conference on Women in Nairobi and Beijing (1985 and 1995, respectively). In the year 1985, the focus was ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Participation in Peace and Development’. In the year 1995, the focus was Beijing Platform for Action in 12 critical areas of gender equality and women empowerment. Centre for Social Research has a Special Consultative Status as an ECOSOC Member of the United Nations that demonstrates special competence of CSR in a specific field of ECOSOC activity.