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Gender Equality

USAID is building high-impact partnerships to address the barriers faced by women and girls in India.


India is the world’s largest democracy, second most populous country, and seventh largest economy, yet India’s women are significantly less literate, paid lower wages, and have less access to basic services than men. The ratio of girls to boys at birth is among the most skewed in the world due to cultural preferences for a son. Girls are much more likely than boys to encounter violence, suffer from chronic and infectious diseases and face child marriage. The World Economic Forum places India 114th out of 142 countries in the world in the Global Gender Gap Index.

USAID is building high-impact partnerships that leverage local resources to address the barriers faced by women and girls in India. Our programs help promote and ensure equitable access to quality healthcare, water and sanitation, education, nutrition, finance, and also improve household decision making and asset ownership for women. Our current programs include:


Reproductive Maternal Neonatal and Child Health + Adolescents (RMNCH+A) Alliance: USAID partners with the Kiawah Trust, Piramal Foundation and Dasra (Impact Foundation) to convene a private sector-led alliance that focuses on the health and development of adolescent girls. Dasra is working to resolve issues such as early marriage, menstrual hygiene, gender-based violence, nutrition, and access to secondary education.  The alliance is engaging with a diverse group of stakeholders, such as philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, and corporate partners to build platforms on RMNCH+A issues that strongly integrate gender.

Gender for improved RMNCH+A: In collaboration with Indrani’s Light Foundation and Population Services International, USAID is working through project ‘Wajood’ to improve health outcomes among women and girls, and to address gender-based violence in select states by engaging both the public and private sectors. The program envisages addressing gender equality through a multi-stakeholder platform that can expand the scope and support the scale up of unique initiatives that are currently limited by geographic constraints.

The HIV/AIDS Partnership: Impact through Prevention, Private Sector and Evidence-based Programming (PIPPSE): Through PIPPSE, USAID is supporting a number of innovations being tested in the Thane district in the state of Maharashtra. Under this project, USAID is implementing a District Network Model that forges partnerships among NGOs, community-based organizations, and municipal corporations to address gaps in prevention-to-care continuum services, as well as to address stigma and discrimination experienced by local stakeholders and health care providers. PIPPSE also works to protect vulnerable groups such as female sex workers and men who have sex with men against violence and harassment from police, the general public, and clients.

National Family Health Survey (NFHS) IV: USAID is assisting in the training, mapping and household listing for the NFHS IV, which is the only population-based survey that provides robust data on various gender dimensions — including gender-based violence — in all 29 states and seven Union territories in India. Various data elements include access to health services for girls and women aged 15-49 years, boys and men aged 15-54 years, and children under-five years of age; attitudes toward the gender role in seeking health care services; and gender-based violence among women.


Safe Cities: USAID is partnering with UN Women and the Governments of Delhi and Japan to implement the Safe Cities program in Delhi. This three-year innovative program employs a gender empowerment approach to urban planning that helps girls and women reclaim their right to safe public spaces. Partner organizations are working with the Delhi government to implement solutions to improve safety in schools and on public transportation, streets, and sidewalks. The program also engages men and boys as advocates to both prevent and respond to sexual harassment or assault.

Mobilize! Against Gender-Based Violence: USAID supports the U.S.-based social enterprise Dimagi, Inc. to provide counseling and referral services to victims of gender-based violence (GBV). Dimagi, in partnership with community self-help group leaders, has deployed a mobile application designed to empower victims to fight abuse by finding help and improving their access to counseling and other support services through a network of trusted support organizations. 

Building the Capacity of Women with Disabilities: In partnership with the Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Center, USAID is ensuring that women with disabilities have access to government services such as health care, and is engaging service providers to ensure that disabled women are protected from violence, abuse, and neglect. The program established the first National Gender Disability Resource Center in India and is providing hands-on training and services to disabled women and disability advocates in the states of Odisha, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.

Girl Rising: Girl Rising is a global partnership engaging USAID, 10x10, Intel Corporation, the Council on International Educational Exchange, Vulcan Productions, the Pearson Foundation, and CNN to support girls’ education with the use of Girl Rising — a powerful feature film that highlights the stories of nine girls born into difficult circumstances. India participated in the most recent Girl Rising program — Empower New Generations to Advance Girls’ Education — which is changing minds, lives, and policies by using locally developed releases of its film and follow-on with teaching materials.

Women and Girls Lead Global – The Hero Project: The Independent Television Service (ITVS) is partnering with USAID, the Ford Foundation, and CARE to implement the Women and Girls Lead Global campaign in five countries. This program creates media campaigns that celebrate girls and women’s accomplishments, and inspires and mobilizes the global community to address the challenges that girls and women face in the 21st century. The India multimedia campaign addresses the roots of gender-based violence and gender inequality by challenging patriarchy through the use of film that engage men and boys on the topic of positive masculinity.

Counter-Trafficking in Persons: “Supply Unchained”: USAID and the Skoll Foundation have partnered with GoodWeave to develop a technology-driven compliance system that directly contributes to combating human trafficking and exploitation in global supply chains. This real-time, online dashboard coupled with strategic mobile data collection tools will help transform GoodWeave’s proven monitoring and certification methodology into a scalable, transferrable model. The model is used for mapping, analyzing, and sharing detailed data on elusive, unregulated tiers of global supply chains. It will also pave the way for expanding this model to a variety of industries.  


Afghan Women’s Empowerment Program: USAID partners with the Governments of India and Afghanistan to support the Self-Employed Women’s Association’s (SEWA) Afghan Women’s Empowerment Program. SEWA, a women’s cooperative with more than 1.9 million members in India, will expand its previous work with government and civil society stakeholders in India and Afghanistan to train more than 3,000 Afghan women in vocational and marketing skills to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency. A Tripartite Statement of Principles was signed among the governments of Afghanistan, India and the United States to outline the commitment of each government and ensure the smooth implementation of the project and for the security of implementing partners and beneficiaries. The trainings for Afghan women to serve as Master Trainers in Afghanistan started in April 2016.

wPOWER: The Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Clean Energy (wPOWER) — a joint initiative of the U.S. State Department and USAID — trains women entrepreneurs in business skills and clean energy technologies and products (such as solar lanterns and cook stoves) that can be used in the home. These women then sell the products, increasing their incomes and introducing clean energy into their communities. Since 2012, wPOWER has trained 1,020 rural women in India, who in turn have helped one million Indians adopt clean energy products. wPOWER India works with CARE International, Solar Sister, and the Wangari Mathai Institute in East Africa and Nigeria, as well as Kopernik in Indonesia to bring together clean energy women entrepreneurs from five African countries, Indonesia and India to share best practices and lessons learned.

Feed the Future India Expanding Nepal’s Business Access to Indian Technologies for Agriculture: USAID and International Development enterprise (iDE) are working with Nepalese and Indian agro-companies and their local partners develop supply chains in Nepal to increase poor, smallholder farmers’ access to agro inputs and technologies developed, tested, and proven in India that can dramatically enhance agricultural production and productivity. The partnership aims to increase annual incomes for 50,000 households and significantly improve women’s participation in productive economic activities in the region. The partnership’s impact will be tracked using the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). The impact assessment will focus on the WEAI-established domains of production, resource management, income, leadership, and time.

India-Kenya Dairy Innovation Bridge Program: USAID is partnering with the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS), a leading infrastructure development and financial services group, to transfer to and pilot India’s successful smallholder dairy production and marketing business model in Kenya. As part of this project, women dairy producer groups and cooperatives will have access to dairy processing technologies, market, and critical knowledge and resources to develop productive and profitable smallholder milk value chains in Kenya.

Feed the Future India Africa Innovation Transfer Platform: USAID partners with the U.S. non-profit, Technoserve, to share with and transfer innovative Indian soil and water management techniques — known as Khadins and Taankas — to Kenya and Malawi. These traditional structures have been commonly used in desert areas of India for generations to help local communities, including women farmers, improve off-season crop production, provide water for their cattle, and explore options for growing additional fodder crops. In Kenya, USAID is supporting the Maasai Women’s Dairy Cooperative to access Khadins and Taankas to improve profitability and resource management.

Solar Conduction Dryer, Bullet Santi and Seed Dibbler: USAID is facilitating the transfer to and piloting of cost-effective Indian innovations in select countries across Africa and Asia. Under a tripartite collaboration with Malawi, for example, the Agriculture Innovation Partnership program is strengthening seed production, processing, and extension systems with a special emphasis on supporting women agri-businesses in processing seeds. In India and Kenya, the Indian non-governmental organization (NGO), Science for Society, is piloting a low-cost Solar Conduction Dryer used to dehydrate farm produce. Smallholder and women producer groups use the low-cost technology to process and preserve perishable fruits and vegetables. The Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) is transferring and piloting the three-wheel tractor “Bullet Santi,” seed dibblers, and food processors to Kenya. Thus far, acceptance and adoption of the dibblers and food processors has been higher among women, resulting in additional income. The number of women trained under this program has also exceeded targets.  


Women Impact Alliance: USAID is facilitating an alliance with more than 30 stakeholders to come up with solutions to build the capacity of women impact businesses and investors, to help unlock capital for women impact businesses, and to build data for decision makers evaluating women impact businesses. Stakeholders include investor networks, donors, banks, community-based organizations, non-governmental associations, private sector representatives, and think tanks.

Strengthening Forest and Forest-based Livelihoods in Odisha: USAID is empowering women in the Koraput district of Odisha by building women producer collectives and increasing their incomes through improved marketing of non-timber produce. Promoting women-oriented alternative livelihood activities is also an important component of this project.


Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA): USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation jointly established CSISA in 2009 to help India’s smallholder farmers adapt to climate change and rainfall variability. CSISA works to improve crop production by integrating cutting-edge technologies, such as two-wheeled tractors, rice planters and irrigation methods with resource conservation and sound farm management practices. This project has thus far enhanced women’s participation in farmer trainings and improved their access to technologies by 33 percent.

Achievements in 2015

  • Nearly 74 percent of girls in India received diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus immunization
  • Helped 235,488 women farmers apply new technologies or management practices
  • Trained 3,350 women government and community members in disaster preparedness
  • Supported 8,137,000 women with modern contraception methods
  • Improved sanitation facility access for 75,000 women