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Programmes Empowerment of Women


The Beijing Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women (1995), adopted unanimously by 189 countries, have focused on the integration of women as full and equal partners in decision-making processes, and ushered in greater recognition of their rights in all areas of development. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1993 is the human rights treaty on the rights of women and is mostly referred to as the international bill of rights for women. The Convention has been instrumental in providing the legal and policy frameworks for promotion of women’s human rights at both national and international levels.

 Although there have been advances for women in India in relation to education, health and employment over the past decades; considerable gaps and inequalities still persist between women and men. The discriminations and disadvantages faced by women; include; increasing discriminatory laws and practices in land, property, marriage and inheritance; persistent pressure of poverty; increasing incidence of violence against women; spread of (and vulnerability to)   HIV/AIDS among women and girls; trafficking in women and girls; greater digital and information and communication technologies (ICT) divide between women and men; and under-representation of women in decision-making bodies. These biases are further compounded by the deeply entrenched negative values, norms, attitudes and stereotypes, which work against women.


IISD has been addressing the strategic objectives and critical commitments towards gender equality and women’s empowerment at the national level through a set of integrated programme and policy interventions.

The Organization has been addressing the multiply dimensions of the gender equality goals, as underlined by the Task Force on Education and Gender Equality. UN Millennium Project 2005, which has defined gender equality in terms of transformations in three domains of women’s lives;

  • The capabilities domain; which refers to basic human abilities as measured by education, health, and nutrition (these capabilities are fundamental to individual well-being and are the means through which women can access other forms of well-being);
  • The opportunities domain; which refers primarily to equality in the opportunity to use or apply basic capabilities through access to economic resources (such as land, property, infrastructure, income and employment) and the opportunity to participate in and influence political processes (through representation in parliaments and other political bodies);
  • The security domain, which refers to reduced vulnerability to violence and conflict and which  can result in physical and psychological harm, and can undermine the ability of women to fulfil their potentials (violence is a constitutive element of patriarchy and is used against women and girls to threaten and subjugate them into accepting the male members’ subordination)

These three domains are inter-related. Thus, simultaneous action for change in all three domains is necessary for the achievement of gender equality. Empowerment is the outcome of change in all these three domains. To be empowered, women must gain equal capabilities and equal opportunities as well as must be free from all the forms of violence and coercion.  

Marginalized and Deprived Women

IISD has been focusing on the women; particularly those belonging to weaker sections, including, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Castes and minorities; majority of who are in the rural areas and in the informal/unorganized sectors. The Organization’s programmes are primarily aimed at providing equal access to these groups of marginalized, disadvantaged and socio-economically excluded women in education, health and work.

Empowerment of Women

IISD has been working on Women’s Empowerment as well as well as ensuring the mainstreaming of women’s perspective in all its developmental work to strengthen women’s role as catalysts participants and beneficiaries of the developmental processes.

Economic Empowerment

The programme on economic empowerment of women includes;

  • Poverty eradication through rural development programmes, mobilization of poor women and ensuring convergence of services, and providing support measures to enhance their capabilities;
  • Increasing women’s access to micro-credit by helping the Self-Help Groups (SHGs), raising awareness about availability of micro-credit from governmental banks and cooperatives, and minimize the dependence on private money-lenders, who usually charge exorbitant interests, along with perpetual mortgage system of immoveable and moveable property;
  • Enhancing the role and participation of women in work/ employment as producers and workers, and providing necessary support to the vulnerable groups of women in the informal/ unorganized sectors;
  • Ensuring that benefits of various training and extension programmes in agriculture and allied sectors reach the women and their roles get appropriately expanded as the agricultural workers and producers;
  • Working towards policy improvement to provide appropriate support services congenial working environment and social security to the women working in various industrial sectors; and
  • Providing women-friendly and women-needed support services like child care facilities to the working women, old age homes for the elderly women and enabling environment for women with disability and special ability.

Social Empowerment  

The social empowerment of women for which IISD has been working includes;

  • Equal access to education for women and girls, particularly in primary and vocational and education;
  • Development of gender sensitive educational process and curricula to address the deep-rooted norms and stereotypes;
  • Women-centred reproductive and child health (RCH) services to minimize and eliminate maternal mortality and mobility, child mortality and infant mortality;
  • Providing equal access to health information and services to the adolescent girls to enable them to have equal, secure and safe health environment and responses to meet their special needs;
  • Providing nutritional support to the girls, particularly as a part of overall developmental process of girl child;
  • Involving women in environmental protection, conservation and management as well as reducing the negative impact of environmental degradation on women; and
  • Using science and technology and developing appropriate technology suited to women’s needs in order to raise their efficiency and reduce their drudgery.  

Women in difficult circumstances

The Organization has been working towards the rehabilitation of the vulnerable women in distress and difficulties. These women deserted by their families and relations, mostly become victims of trafficking and  other forms of exploitation, and almost completely lose their basic human rights to live a dignified life.  

Violence against Women

IISD has been working to minimize and eliminate all form of violence (domestic and societal) in all their dimensions (physical, mental, psychological and emotional) including those arising from customs, traditions or accepted practices. The organization has been working for promotion of women’s human rights for full engendering the processes of development.


The organization has been underlining the need for engendering the development processes by imparting gender equality and equity in all spheres of life by organizing gender-sensitization programmes, with the prime objective of promoting awareness on gender issues and women’s human rights among the policy makers, legislators, officials, women groups and civil society organizations.

Women and Local Governance

IISD has been involving the elected representatives of local self- governments (Panchayati Raj Institutions and civics bodies) in implementation of its programmes. The Organization has also been conducting trainings and workshops for these elected representatives on various developmental concerns and strategies, with a thrust on local problems and needs. These programmes also include awareness camps on various governmental schemes.

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