"When you train a woman, you help the entire family, community and nation."
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
The International Women’s Conference (IWC) aims to enhance the global impact of women’s work by arranging a platform for dialogue and information sharing. The Conference also integrated The Art of Living’s individual empowerment program with tailored social initiatives designed by the International Association for Human Values (IAHV).
IWC is designed to complement ongoing Art of Living and IAHV initiatives. Examples of these initiatives are mentioned below. Get more information on the Art of Living’s women’s empowerment initiatives. Art of Living’s Women’s Empowerment Initiatives.
A partial list of service initiatives include:
Girl Child Education
Funds accrued during IWC were dedicated to providing scholarships to 500 girl children who attend VVMVP schools across tribal and rural areas of India. Provided with meals, clothes, books, transportation and value-education, the children participate in a deductive approach to learning and on aggregate perform at the 95 percentile on state board examinations. Nearly half of all the children enrolled in VVMVP schools across India are girls.
Women Welfare VISTA, India
VISTA is an independent non-governmental organization dedicated to fighting poverty and gender related injustice in India, specifically targeting marginalized women to empower them. VISTA India is a grassroots project based on the principle of Value Integrated Services To All (VISTA). The IWC has helped this project establish a strong foothold in rural India. VISTA educates women and provides vocational training in sewing and embroidery to make them self-reliant. Many of these women find work in the local garment industry; others work from home to augment family income. VISTA has also instituted a special program called 'Earn while you Learn,' which helps women-in-training take up tailoring orders from individuals and companies. Over 2000 women from 30 villages in Karnataka, India; have been trained so far under the VISTA ‘Earn while you Learn’ program.
India’s Missing Daughters" - Campaign Against Female Foeticide
The Art of Living and UNFPA partnered to address the imbalance in India’s sex ratio as an outcome of IWC 2005. The Founder of IAHV and The Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, joined more than 36 religious and spiritual leaders, representatives from government, civil society and the media to launch a nation-wide campaign that drew thousands against the practice of female selective abortions.
AIDS Awareness - HARA
HARA Program, started in 2009, promotes HIV/AIDS awareness among rural communities, and helps women with HIV/AIDS achieve economic self-sufficiency. To achieve this, HARA educates youth volunteers (“yuvacharyas” ) in villages about HIV transmission, prevention and care. These yuvacharyas are trained for three days by certified doctors. In this training, rural youth are made aware of HIV/AIDS, its causes and prevention methods. The yuvacharyas are also trained to organize awareness workshops and to work with other like-minded, non-profit and government organizations in their area.
To complement the efforts of the yuvacharyas, HARA provides vocational training to affected individuals in skills such as tailoring, pickle making, honey and ghee production and handbags and handicrafts production. HARA also helps participants market and sell their goods. The HARA Program has reached out to 29,196 people between 2009- 2010.
Peanut Butter Project, Zimbabwe
Inspired by IWC 2007, the Zimbabwean delegation worked with local Murewa women to engage in the community-driven development programs offered by The Art of Living. After 797 women participated in leadership and capacity development, 82 formed a group to start a small scale peanut butter production and manufacturing factory. With seed capital and mentorship provided by Art of Living Zimbabwe, the project has provided a sustainable way to build civic engagement and the asset base of women in poverty.