Across the world, we are often conditioned to accept gender norms that may be inherently harmful to our ability to live a life of well-being. Swasti’s work in the domain of gender and equity, starts with an aspiration of inclusive development, addressing structural violence, and encompasses putting in place systems and processes of health and safety, working with communities on life skills that empower girls, women, and those who identify as gender non-binary to thrive, tackling harmful social norms, and working with public and private organisations to create an enabling eco-system.
To make everyday well-being real for the marginalised, we recognized that hurdles to social safety and gender inequity inevitably result in an unstable life. Marginalised communities such as Women in Sex Work, Transgender People, Gay Men, Factory Workers, Migrant Women, Urban and Rural Poor have to fight various norms and experience gender-based violence on a daily basis.
We understand the importance of preventing gender-based violence, and promoting a life of safety, security, and justice, as basic necessities and rights of every human being, regardless of their identity. Instead of only engaging with crisis-management, we have embraced the idea of prevention of gender-based violence. In addressing risks and root causes, and consciously partnering with the marginalised to address harmful social norms, our approach is prevention-oriented, and introduces a dual focus on protection and empowerment.
Our work with community institutions enables people to become para legal volunteers, peer counsellors, and advisors; partnering with community institutions in creating an enabling environment by sensitising and engaging with local stakeholders (i.e. police, lawyers), and tackling harmful social norms.
We have close to a decade of experience in workforce development initiatives. We have worked with more than 200 factories and 20 brands in different parts of India, and have been providing quality assurance support to several workforce development initiatives in India, Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia, on gender and equity. We have a panel of transformation specialists who provide strategic guidance and support to these initiatives.
Addressing gender issues has been an integral part of the vision and objectives of Swasti. Here are examples of how we have engendered various work:
With Gap Inc’s Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E), focused on women’s empowerment through life skill education to female garment workers across 10 countries - India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Srilanka, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Jordan, Myanmar, and Pakistan, Swasti has been a global partner on capacity building and quality assurance.
With Walmart’s Women in Factories (WiF) program , Swasti trained more than 25,000 workers across factories in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and the union territory of Daman on gender sensitivity under foundational training.
Swasti works with corporates on POSH: Strengthening Prevention of Sexual Harassment Committees; strengthening systems to address gender-based violence at workplaces, and create harassment-free work environments. Reviewing existing anti-sexual harassment policies, establishing anti-sexual harassment committees, building the capacity of the committees, and awareness building among all employees of the companies, are some aspects of such partnerships. We do not take up a position on these Committees to avoid conflict of interest.
With Inditex, we have worked on creating awareness on gender sensitivity among the workforce, and implemented sexual harassment prevention committees in supplier factories across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Delhi (NCR). Swasti is part of program design, development of training outline, and IEC development.
With BSR’s HERhealth and HERfinance, Swasti has focused on women’s health and financial empowerment across factories.
Swasti’s Model 99 offers awareness on gender & gender-based violence, and includes extensive trainings covering a wide range of aspects such as Gender, Gender Stereotypes, Discrimination, Preventing Violence against Women, Rights and Laws preventing women, and more.
With Swathi Mahila Sangha, one of India’s largest community-based organization of women in sex work, we undertook Pragati - a project that takes an empowerment approach to HIV prevention for 16,000 women.
Addressing violence against women and girls in Bengaluru: Swasti, in partnership with United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has conducted mapping of responses and practices existing within the city, and has recommended a comprehensive plan to address gender-based violence, especially, violence against women and girls (VAWG) for Bengaluru city, in India. This is the safe city plan.
Our work in the space of gender is interfaced with seminal work around evidence such as the “Enhancing Ujjawala Scheme” Project, where, in partnership with UNICEF, we conducted the bottleneck study to comprehensively understand the Ujjwala scheme, the details of the process of prevention, care, rehabilitation, reintegration, and repatriation, to understand the gaps and challenges of the Ujjawala scheme dealing with trafficking. It included interviews with Ujjawala centre staff, local police, Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and members of the Department of Women and Child Welfare. Using a vulnerability framework developed by Swasti, researchers studied and explored characteristics of the victims, including factors like context - individual, family, neighbourhood; macro environment - human development, geo-political situation, schooling, gender norms, migration, HIV prevalence, and drug corridors.
Our work in moving the needle in gender equity and safety has seen us in various locations, including India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Eswatini, Maldives, and many more.
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