Social Responsibility Journal
Volume 3 Number 4 2007
Corporate Social Responsibility and the Empowerment of Women: An Indian Perspective
Renu Jatana & David Crowther
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is both to argue that CSR has a role to play in the empowerment of women in India
and to show that this is actually happening.
Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on reported information from Indian companies.
Findings – The paper makes a link between these two topics which has not been made before.
Practical implications – The paper has a practical implication both for Indian companies and for companies elsewhere
in the world in terms of their concern with corporate social responsibility.
Originality/value – The paper’s value is in broadening and deﬁning the concept of CSR and its implications.
Keywords Corporate social responsibility, Women, India
Paper type General review
There is a saying in India that “Yatra Naryastu Pujente Ramante Tatra Devta” which translates as “god lives there where
women are to be worshiped”. These words had some meaning in ancient times – at a time when women had high status
equal to that of men in their family as well as in society. But nowadays these are only words – to actually think about
worship is very far from likelihood as women have no astitva
in society and women comprise a less privileged sector of
society. We think this situation can only happen in rural area but here we are wrong: the situation of women is the same
whether it is in a rural or in an urban area and to what extent they are empowered. Indian women are theoretically
empowered – physically, mentally, economically and politically – but after independence only the elite women achieved
equality. Women from poorer groups are still facing exploitation and discrimination. Violence against women – like
bride burning or female feticide – continues to happen, and women are neglected in every aspect of life whether it is
health, education, employment or politics. Though women’s contribution has been immense at the time of freedom
struggle and the role played by women in national movements was a big support because of which the freedom movement
became a success, things have not changed.
To improve the situation of women, the government and states are taking several initiatives for over all
development, empowerment and welfare for girl children and for women. The government has passed many policies and
programmes in this regard. But, in reality, the picture is different because today also women face insecurities in the forms
of sexual assault, domestic violence, trafﬁcking, exploitation and sexual abuse, and some problems like the problems of
poverty, illiteracy and poor health facilities.
But we have to awake and empower the women for the betterment of society, the betterment of our future because
god has given a beautiful gift to women i.e. birth, our future also depends on women, women who are empowered and,
as such, powerful and who can ﬁght for their right and win against injustice and take their own decisions. Our women
need support so that they can play a greater role in the development of the country.
Women and Empowerment
The empowerment of women is the process by which unequal power relations between men and women become
transformed and women gain greater equality with men: in other words it is the process to challenge social restrictions
and social norms for women which are barriers in the way of their development so that their conﬁdence level can increase
and they can also contribute to nation’s development and participate in political, social and economic life at the local,
regional and national level. By social empowerment we mean a more equitable social status for women in society. Legal
empowerment is the provision of an effective legal structure which is supportive of women’s empowerment and political
empowerment means a political system favouring the participation in, and control by women of, the political decision
making process and its associated governance.
It is not as simple as it is sounds because empowerment is something that can be transformed from one segment
to another segment of the society. The government has started their empowerment program and is making many policies
to empower women but the true success is totally depend on us.
Suggested measures for women’s empowerment include:
• Capacity building and skill development.
• Participation development process.
• Granting autonomy.
Literally “the complete and total characteristic potential of a person”.