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Stopping gender-based violence, paving the path towards economic progress

Business & Industry

Stopping gender-based violence, paving the path towards economic progress

"One in three women may suffer from abuse and violence in her lifetime. This is an appalling human rights violation, yet it remains one of the invisible and under-recognized pandemics of our time." – Nicole Kidman, Goodwill Ambassador of UN Women

A report published by WHO estimates that about 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical violence in some form; and less than 40% of them seek help. In India, the situation is even more appalling as most of this violence takes place within the domestic framework, with the major reason being the socio-economic dependency of women on the male members of the house. This problem is spread across every strata of society and is not just restricted to the economically downtrodden. Social ostracism, banishment and lack of effective support channels have only aggravated the situation with most women choosing to accept and live with it; most of the cases of gender violence go unreported.

The forced lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the situation. Economic hardship brought on by loss of jobs and income, coupled by mandatory stay-at-home restrictions have led to more frequent marital conflicts, physical violence on women and children. Within a month of the lockdown, the National Commission of Women (NCW) witnessed a steep rise in the number of domestic violence complaints. Being trapped within the home enhanced the frequency and intensity of physical and psychological abuse. It affected both the physical and mental wellbeing of women and children.

A flicker of hope for these victims of domestic violence has been presented by certain NGOs that have been working committedly towards helping these women. CARE, CREA, Snhalaya, Azad, etc are a few of these NGOs that have taken up cudgels on behalf of these oppressed women; they are providing self-awareness courses, defense training and rehabilitation programs to help. They hold public discussions, online and offline campaigns to create awareness and build platforms to stop violence and discrimination against women.

However, a lot more can be done to empower women and drastically bring down the violence on women. A major role can be played by corporates in this direction. By making the choice to economically empower women, corporates can restore confidence in the minds of women, help them break the shackles and lead a life of contentment and happiness.

Sodexo has been an active participant in this drive towards women empowerment. The company has associated with NGOs and societies to seek out victims of violence and has helped in reinstating them. Sodexo’s recruitment policies have been tailored to include these women; supporting regulations have been framed to ensure that they can continue working and not drop out due to further domestic and societal compulsions. Sodexo employees have access to third-party, confidential resources like ‘Sodexo Supports Me’. The company believes in leading the change and stopping gender-based violence in every strata of society. After all, women’s economic empowerment directly leads to abolition of poverty and inclusive economic growth of the nation.

-Sreya Oberoi – D&I Lead, Sodexo India
 

November 25, 2020

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