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Women Empowerment In Rural Odisha

Welcome to Grassroots India!

Grassroots India has successfully created a cutting-edge vocational & life skill training program for young girls from rural villages in Odisha, India.

The Hariharananda Vocational Training Center (HVTC), located in the town of Cuttack, was founded by Debra Pennington and inaugurated by Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji Maharaj in 2008. Various classes and workshops are designed to enhance the students ability to create the life they choose.

Grassroots India's W.I.S.H. (Women's Independent Self-Help) Network consists of an eclectic group of HVTC students, community mentors, professionals, and social workers who link rural youth with urban resources. The W.I.S.H. Network has enhanced the skills, education, health and life experience of hundreds of children through its collective resources. (See Projects).

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A group of people standing in front of a hut.

The Need for Women Empowerment in Odisha

In the worldwide movement towards women empowerment, India's eastern state of Odisha has received little attention. In the remote villages of this largely tribal and conservative region, the women and girls face many challenges to the basic freedoms and resources that we have come to appreciate in most of the world. Basic levels of education and health are often difficult to access. Domestic violence and other women's' rights violations occur frequently. Legal access for the poor and marginalized is wrought with further abuse and corruption.

Women’s leadership at the village level is indispensable for rural transformation, however many girl children are still aborted or neglected every year. Dowry has been outlawed in India since 1961, but “dowry torture” and "bride burning" still occur throughout the state. Women are often victims of physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse.

Widows, single-mothers, and sexually abused women are often ostracized. As a result, Odisha has a high rate of female suicide due to the social pressures women and girls face. Low self-worth and deep depres­sion are common.

Community health centers in rural villages lack medical expertise and sophisticated testing. Childbirth complications, OB-GYN emergencies and malnutrition among women are commonplace. Unnecessary fatalities due to poverty are frequent.

Grassroots India offers a place of refuge and support at their center in Cuttack, the medical and legal hub of Odisha. We offer counseling, opportunities and resources to those who need a helping hand. (See Projects)


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