Run through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the 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 the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and has reached around 50,000 women.
The pilot has helped 35,000 women participate in a wide range of businesses from dairies to craft production. It has also 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 in around 20,000 villages in some of India’s poorest districts.
“When I visited the project, I was inspired by the women who are leading the change in these villages,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the Ikea Foundation. “It is a powerful reality that when women are empowered, so are their children, their families and their entire communities.
“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.”
“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,” said Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UNDP resident representative and UN resident coordinator in India.
“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.”