AIF’s Annual Livelihoods Knowledge Event under CSR
The American India Foundation, which has been catalysing social and economic change in India for the past 22 years, hosted the annual Livelihoods knowledge event ‘Future of Livelihoods’ today at Silver Oak, India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
The event began with a Keynote address by Chief Guest Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs, Government of India, and addressed emerging gaps in women’s labour force participation, the inclusion of women with disabilities in the workforce, and the far-reaching impact of climate change on their livelihoods in the coming decade.
‘Future of Livelihoods,’ led by AIF’s award-winning flagship Livelihoods Program – Market Aligned Skills Training, brought together 130 sectoral experts, policymakers, academicians, and corporates to reflect on how to rebuild a better world for women by unpacking the evolving role of CSR in promoting their livelihoods. The event, which was co-organized by Market Aligned Skills Foundation, included ecosystem partner National Skill Development Corporation (N.S.D.C.) as co-hosts, Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihood Mission as Special Partner, and iForest (International Forum for Environment, Sustainability, and Technology), Skill Council for Green Jobs, and Wadhwani Foundation as Knowledge Partners.
Annual Livelihoods Knowledge Event
In the opening session, Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs, Government of India, spoke with Mathew Joseph, Country Director, AIF, about empowering women as key social change drivers by addressing their livelihood aspirations. ‘It is not incumbent upon one department to look at women’s issues, but it needs to be a part of every department, and that has been one of the biggest changes in governance,’ she said to the audience at the event.I
‘While the social sector is addressing many obstacles and creating employment options through skill and entrepreneurship development, improving access to capital and markets, and opening additional revenue streams are critical,’ said Guest of Honor Dr Shalini Rajneesh, Additional Chief Secretary Planning, Programme Monitoring and Statistics Department, Government of Karnataka. India is undergoing digital transformation, but only 30% of women have internet access, and a lack of resources keeps them from pursuing livelihoods.’
Ashish Chaturvedi, Head – Environment, Energy, and Resilience, UNDP; Poonam Chandok, Head – HR, L & T Energy; Praveen Saxena, CEO, Skill Council for Green Jobs; Richa Singh, VP HR – D & I and CSR, Max Life Insurance; Vivek Misra, Director – Customer Support and India lead for Disability ERG, Microsoft; Sunil Dahiya, Executive Vice President Ski Among those honoured were Dinesh Babu, ED – Power and Utilities and Climate Change Assurance & Sustainability Services, E & Y, and Kamesh Sanghi, Director, Livelihoods, American India Foundation (AIF).
With the overarching theme of ‘Unpacking the Evolving Role of CSR in Building Women’s Livelihoods in the Post-COVID Era,’ the first session of Future of Livelihoods, ‘Building the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem – Enabling the Next Leap,’ began with a discussion on how India’s growth story has left behind a key demographic: women! It shed light on how women entrepreneurs can be empowered to be drivers of this growth, and their success will not only benefit the economy through job creation, but will also deliver transformational social and personal outcomes for women.
The second panel, titled ‘Leveraging Technology – Mainstreaming Disability at Workplaces,’ emphasised the importance of a multifaceted approach to catalyse accessibility while keeping women with disabilities at the centre of this mediation. The session laid the groundwork for a discussion about how the ecosystem should enable and empower them by promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
The session laid the groundwork for a discussion about how the ecosystem should enable and empower them by promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Panelists also discussed the need for innovation in this space, as well as how the government, both at the national and state levels, as well as NGOs and CSR partners, can collaborate to effect systemic change. The final and concluding panel of the event, ‘Women as Enablers of the Transition to a Green Economy,’ drew from a rich tapestry of leaders and practitioners in the space to examine the multitude of challenges to those on the front lines of climate change impact, particularly vulnerable women and communities living on the brink of environmental disasters.
It discussed the requirement for robust development pillars,
to nurture women to be the catalysts, who enable, and who lead this transition to the green economy in order to get ready for an impending and urgent change towards green and sustainable livelihoods. “It is incumbent upon all of us to mobilise women’s economic empowerment, which is intricately linked to reducing poverty, addressing climate change, and boosting the country’s economic progress. More voice, freedom, and power at home and in the economy result from increasing women’s roles and participation. According to Mathew Joseph, AIF’s country director, “AIF, which has been empowering women since 2001, is thrilled to join with important ecosystem partners to further our goal.