The United States and India believe that the empowerment of women and girls is essential for sustained prosperity, peace, and progress in society. The two countries partner on a range of programs and joint initiatives to strengthen women’s economic and political participation; to prevent and respond to gender-based violence; and through a new focus on adolescent girls, the two countries will work together to enable young women to lead lives as healthy and productive citizens.
Promoting Women’s Leadership in Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, and Health
- U.S.–India–Afghan Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative: Through an expanded partnership between the United States, India, and Afghanistan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting the Indian Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), the world’s largest women’s trade union to economically empower 3,000 Afghan women, strengthen local institutional capacity, and establish training centers across four Afghan provinces and Kabul.
- South Asia Women’s Economic Symposium (SAWES) Initiative: Developed under the U.S.-India Women’s Empowerment Dialogue, the SAWES initiative is advancing women’s entrepreneurship and cross-border business partnerships in India and across South Asia. Supported by the U.S. Department of State, the Asia Foundation is implementing a series of activities in collaboration with South Asian women’s business associations to increase access to finance, markets, and training opportunities for female small and medium-sized enterprise owners.
- Tupperware Brands Global Links Program: Through a public-private partnership with Tupperware Brands Corporation and Rollins College, in January 2015, the State Department will launch the Global Links Program in India to support entrepreneurship education for women. The program will support an Indian female professor of business or economics to travel to the United States to enrich her exposure to entrepreneurship education curriculum, participate in an externship at Tupperware headquarters, and support the professor’s efforts to build the capacity of future female entrepreneurs within her home university in India.
- Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership: Fourteen women business leaders from India have participated to date in a high-profile public-private partnership program between the U.S. Department of State and the Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women Summit to develop their leadership and business skills through mentorships with senior American women executives.
- Women in Science Workshops: Identified as a priority area for engagement between the United States and India, the U.S. Department of State has partnered with the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology, the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology (S&T) Forum, and prominent U.S. and Indian scientific organizations to advance women in science and technology. In July 2014, the United States and India organized an exchange on “Evidence-Based Techniques to Advance Gender Equality in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” The U.S. National Science Foundation and the Indo-U.S. S&T Forum will hold a second workshop in New Delhi in November 2014 to develop bilateral partnerships that promote women in science and enhance research collaborations.
- Women in Clean Technology Initiatives: The Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Clean Energy (wPOWER) funded by the U.S. government, supports rural clean energy entrepreneurs in Maharashtra and Bihar states, in partnership with Indian NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog. The Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, a recipient of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, is promoting capacity building in green jobs for women in the informal sector in Delhi.
- Women’s Health Programs: USAID supports improved maternal and child healthcare through programs such as the RMNCH+A Alliance, which is being implemented by leading Indian foundations and the Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) project. The Health for Urban Poor project supported by USAID and implemented by the Population Foundation of India is increasing access to priority health services for women and children in urban slums and will be scaled up by the Government of India under the National Urban Health Mission.
Preventing and Responding to Gender-based Violence (GBV)
- Safe Cities Initiative: USAID, UN Women, and the government of Japan have partnered to implement this innovative program that employs a gender empowerment approach to urban planning and infrastructure development in New Delhi and enables girls and women to reclaim access to safe public space. Through this program, partner organizations spread information regarding GBV and NGO services, including help lines to citizens, and engage men and boys as advocates to both prevent and respond to sexual harassment or assault.
- Mobilise! Project: Supported by USAID, Dimagi, Inc. in collaboration with the St. John’s Research Institute in Bangalore is implementing a new program using mobile technology to increase the number of women screened for GBV during routine health visits, and provide counseling and referral services to survivors.
- Women in Public Service Project: With support from Embassy New Delhi, the Wilson Center and Lady Shri Ram College partnered to hold a series of roundtables in 2014 for emerging women leaders from India and the region. Participants discussed policy recommendations and drafted a Regional Platform for Action to promote women’s political participation and address GBV. Additional workshops will follow in 2015.
- Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives: Shakti Vahini, an Indian NGO, is building the capacity of newly initiated Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs), facilitating interstate police cooperation in 10 northern Indian states to combat sex and labor trafficking and forced marriages, and creating a 24/7 Response Center for search and rescue of TIP victims in partnership with AHTUs.
- Public Outreach and Awareness Programs: Through exchange and speakers programs, the U.S. Department of State regularly brings Indian leaders to the United States and American experts to India to share expertise and lessons learned on key issues facing women and girls. In 2014-2015, six different exchange tours will focus on women’s empowerment. In 2015, Embassy New Delhi plans to support communications training for organizations working to combat violence against women, including a “TechCamp” in Mumbai to implement real world technology solutions to empower civil society activists as they address GBV. Our Embassy and Consulates also plan to hold a series of film festivals throughout India focused on GBV. Global public-private partnerships with USAID, such as the Women and Girls Lead Global Project and the Girl Rising Global Partnership, will use innovative multimedia and film campaigns to promote girls’ education and engage men and boys to address root causes of GBV.
Convening Collaborative Dialogues
- The U.S.-India Women’s Empowerment Dialogue: The United States and India plan to schedule the next U.S.-India Women’s Empowerment Dialogue at a mutually convenient time. Chaired by the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and India’s Minister for Women and Child Development, the Dialogue will advance joint programs related to key issues including women’s leadership; improving girls’ equal access to secondary education; women’s health and increasing women’s access to sanitation; strengthening the protection of women and girls; and accelerating women’s participation in the work force, including the private sector.
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