The data clearly showed that more than economic or political resources, improving the social and cultural support for women is the most important aspect of their empowerment. Global experts are also starting to realize this. To account for it, the researchers developed a more accurate empowerment model to account for the role of social pressures within family and male support.
“The learnings and outcomes of this project are a testament to what can take place when research is driven by an underlying motivation to identify and address society’s needs from the perspective of the community,” explains Sheshadri.
“I feel extremely fortunate to be associated with Amrita University, an institution that champions compassion-driven research as a core value, ensuring that we hold ourselves accountable to the communities and social phenomena that we set out to study.”
Following the successful completion in 2014 of a women’s empowerment project funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), researchers from AMMACHI Labs and CWEGE conducted an extended impact assessment. One of the outcomes of this was the need to redefine the way women’s empowerment is understood, especially for the Indian context.
“Taking part in this service project and the subsequent research has been a life-changing experience for me. One of the unique aspects of research at Amrita University is that it always must have some benefit for society, and I think this work is in line with that mission," shares Coley.
"We now better understand the social conditions and can develop more effective programs in the future. I am proud to be a part of such efforts.”
Dr Bhavani Rao is the UNESCO Chair in Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality at Amrita University. Dr. Sriram Devanathan is a professor and Principal at the Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru Campus.
Photo 1: Srividya Sheshadri says research in rural India must be driven by identifying and addressing society’s needs from the perspective of the community.
Photo 2: Christopher Coley says taking part in this service project and the subsequent research in rural India has been a life-changing experience for him.
Photo 3: The complex network of psychological, sociological and economic factors in the study.