In India, women empowerment has different connotations. In rural India it is quite different compared to the urban areas. The socio-economic empowerment of women is a prerequisite for development of the society. Cairn India identifies and understands the importance of skill development and access to employment opportunities. It is committed to enhance the social status of rural women in its operational areas. The company has been working towards initiating programmes for regular mentoring and creating opportunities for their overall socio-economic enhancement.
To take the initiatives forward, through Cairn Enterprise Centre (CEC), Cairn India has been providing skill training, career counselling and linkage to employment opportunities to over 12,000 youth including women since 2007. The Barmer district in Rajasthan with its low literacy rate, lacks of quality education and poor community awareness, poor health and low income in the region. Thus, Cairn India has enabled large scale community development projects to ensure inclusive growth. Through CEC, various income generation activities have also been introduced to empower women. CEC also provides financial support to help these women start their own businesses.
One such example of the impact of CEC is that of Chanchal Jain from conservative family aspiring to carve her own identity at a very young age. CEC helped Chanchal along with other youth of Barmer trained for entrance test of HDFC Bank. In a month long course, they were not only taught aptitude, numeric ability and English proficiency but their personality was also groomed to make them ready for corporate life. Post the training, Chanchal was selected by HDFC and today she is progressively climbing the corporate ladder and has now become a role model for many girls of her age in Barmer.
In a move of usual vocational training courses for women such as sewing or craft-making, Cairn India has empowered 50 women to be trained masons.
The masonry training proved to be a big boon for Soni Devi, a 28 year old widow at Bhimda village in Barmer. As a value addition, all the women participants of the masonry training are also being made literate through a special provisional literacy programme specifically designed for them. This ensures that after completion of the training, the women are not only financially independent but are also empowered to face new challenges. Today, Soni and other inspiring women masons are now helping build toilets as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.