At CSR’s International Conference on Pre-Natal Sex Selection, Ms. Ena Singh, Assistant Representative of United National Population Fund (UNPFA), stated “incentive schemes which specifically address the needs of girls and women are here to stay”. They improve wellbeing of women and girls. There is a need however for adjustments to such schemes in order to make them more effective. Urgently they should be made more easily available for women. “Clearer information needs to be provided and the costs of accessing it need to be lowered” Ms. Ena Singh said. Facilitating access to the schemes for women and girls will be a crucial step in making a change towards gender equality.
One way of doing this is through using digital tools. There is a good reason why over the last few years we heard more and more stories about people trying to restrict women’s access to mobile phones and internet. In short: access is empowerment.Mobile phones with internet access are inexpensive in India and they provide a world of information to women and girls which would otherwise remain disclosed to them. Estimations are made that in 2011 almost 40% of all women in India (225 million!) were mobile phones India. In 2009 this number was merely 161 million which means we saw an increase of 40% female users in just two years. These trends indicate an enormous chance for women’s empowerment. Especially because many women have demonstrated a will to be better informed and better connected.
Dr. Manasi Mishra, the Head of the Research Division of CSR,shared that “in the community meetings CSR organizes, it becomes clear that parents are actually eager to know more about the schemes for their girls”.
For this reason CSR developed a Welfare Scheme App to bridge the gaps between providers and users of welfare. The app, now available on Android, provides clear information on the benefits, eligibility and time frames of the different schemes. Additionally it guides women and girls through the application process by informing them which documents they need in order to apply for the respective schemes.
“With the ever changing environment of welfare schemes in India, it’s a mammoth task to stay updated, #SoSec serves as a solution, with updated information for beneficiaries and access providers including government officials, social workers and citizens who want to help out. ”said Amitabh Kumar, Head of Media and Communication Division.
The app is expected to revolutionize the way information about social welfare is currently provided to social workers and to women and girls themselves.
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