UNDP- IKEA Foundation expand partnership to build self-reliance of 2.2 million women in India

Apr 10, 2012

Photo: Niklas Hallen/UNDP India

New Delhi:  The IKEA Foundation has committed €30 million (approximately US$40 million) for a programme to empower 2.2 million poor rural women in India.  This will allow the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to reach these millions of women and their families in approximately 20,000 villages in some of India’s poorest districts. 

UNDP’s Swaayam (Sanskrit for ‘self-reliance’) empowerment model integrating the key social, economic, political and legal dimensions was initiated two years ago in a pilot programme funded by the IKEA Foundation in 500 villages in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh with a grant of €5.5 million (US$ 7.5 million), successfully reaching approximately 50,000 women to strengthen their abilities to become catalysts of change.

“When I visited the project I was inspired by the women who are leading the change in these villages.  It is a powerful reality that when women are empowered, so are their children, their families and their entire communities,” said Mr. Per Heggenes CEO of IKEA Foundation.  “UNDP has shown that innovative thinking and management can create lasting change for women and children in Uttar Pradesh, and we are proud to support their efforts to scale up and bring change to millions more women and children in India.”

The pilot has already helped 35,000 women participate in a diverse array of businesses from dairy to craft production.  In addition it has provided training on financial literacy and business management creating over 12,000 financially literate women and 4,000 entrepreneurs. The new grant will allow UNDP to reach an additional 2.2 million women and help them to improve their ability to become entrepreneurs and to create and own assets.

Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in India pointed out, “Empowerment of women is a key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals  and bringing about transformational change and the India project is an excellent example of this strategy.”

The pilot programme has also demonstrated that when women’s economic empowerment is combined with legal and political awareness, they become catalysts for lasting change. Over 30,000 women have ratified a 12 point charter that spells out their key commitments to bring about social change. Politically too they are more active. Mass scale voter awareness campaigns reached out to 200,000 people. Women in Self Help Groups came together to promote their candidates and in 2010 out of the 764 women who contested local elections 278 were successful, up from just five candidates contesting in 2005, of which none were elected.   Collectively women are now a force for change.
About IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in developing countries by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently-funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children.  Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org.

About UNDP

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. With offices in more than 160 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. www.undp.org

Contact information

mobile: +919810153924;
mobile: +919810084776

For IKEA Foundation:
mobile: (+31) 611 756 336

UNDP Around the world