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Women Empowerment

A Rights-Based Approach to Development


ADWAN gives women the tools to become agents of change. Rather than “solving” their problems, we enable people to improve their own lives and claim their inalienable human rights through social and economic empowerment.


ADWAN’s programs are based on women’s empowerment groups, developing leadership and encouraging women of different castes to work together. Reaching out to the non-Dalit community is a unique approach that aims to be inclusive and human rights-based.


ADWAN’s groups help form bonds and friendships across caste divisions. Through growing solidarity, women begin to alter their learned behavior with regards to caste and “untouchability.” Internal attitudes and behavior of mutual support spread to the families and eventually permeate the entire community.

Stage 1: Organizing Women’s Groups


ADWAN organizes 15-25 women of different castes into groups and teaches them how to run autonomous savings and loan associations. Women save small amounts monthly to build a common fund from which to borrow to develop small enterprises. At the same time field staff teach them basic numeracy and literacy.


Stage 2: Education and Livelihood Development for Women


This is a comprehensive approach to human rights concepts, critical thinking, strategies for social action and livelihood development. It includes business training and introductory workshops on women’s health and community sanitation.


Stage 3. Community Outreach


In addition to human rights training within the groups, ADWAN’s staff also conducts annual human rights workshops, which include non-Dalit community leaders. Some women’s groups have also constructed meeting houses, which benefit the entire community.

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