Reliance Foundation was created in 2010 by Founder and Chairperson Nita Ambani, in order to increase Reliance Industries Limited’s involvement in a range of philanthropic activities. Having positively impacted more than four million lives across the country, it has reached out to individuals living in over 5,500 villages and urban areas in India.
The prime objective of Reliance Foundation (RF) is to address and eliminate India’s developmental challenges by empowering the marginalized communities.
Women in the World Summit
Nita Ambani co-hosted the first Women in the World Summit in India, held at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. Other hosts included Barkha Dutt, Shabana Azmi, Prabha Narasimhan, Tina Brown, and Anand Mahindra.
Nita Ambani’s speech expressed her views on supporting women. She not only shared stories of RF’s work in the rural communities but also of women who continue to inspire her.
The situation at Paudi
Paudi is a 300-year old village that falls in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla District. The village consists of 82 households, of which 70% villagers own less than 1 hector of land.
Nearly all the male members of Paudi migrated to nearby cities in search of job opportunities while the women and children stayed back. Another major problem faced by the village was the rampant alcohol abuse and the frequent fights between households.
Reliance Foundation’s involvement
Although the underlying factors made it extremely hard to organize the village, associates of Reliance Foundation’s Bharat India Jodo (RF -BIJ) program devised a strategy that would help solve the problem.
RF attempted to form a Village Association (VA) in Paudi, but the meetings were futile due to the low attendance of male members to represent their households. Over time, the womenfolk started to attend these meetings, and this inspired the BIJ team to register them as VA members.
A resident of Paudi, Gulaba Bai’s dedication, and involvement helped her become the President of the VA. Since she was the first woman head of any VA in the district, the decision was met with a lot of protests.
When asked about her progress, Gulaba Bai could barely contain her excitement and said that when she first attended a meeting at Mandla, she was very nervous upon realizing that all the other VA heads were male. With help from the Nita Ambani led RF team, she slowly started to gain confidence. Gulaba now aims to make her VA the best in the entire district.
The end result
Led by Gulaba Bai, the VA is extremely responsive and transparent in terms of considering the opinions of all members. The efficiency of women members also helped the RF team immensely.
The BIJ team not only helped the village increase its economic output but also made the women realize their potential as leaders.