The role of women in the development of society is of utmost importance. In fact, it is the only thing that determines whether a society is strong and harmonious, or otherwise. Women are the backbone of society" - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Instilling Confidence and a Sense of Independence
Sri Sri's unique initiative, the Women's empowerment program, provides vocational training, microfinance venture incentives, self-development workshops, and self-help groups for disadvantaged women across the world. The program was launched in 1985 in Bangalore, India, as VISTA India (Value Integrated Services to All). Over 2000 women from thirty different villages have been trained through this program. Inspired by the project's success, the program was replicated in other parts of India, and countries such as Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Iraq.
In South Africa, a group of thirty participants from the Ohlange community learned the intricate art of African bead crafting, and more than 300 women attended self-development workshops. The women now host regular music and meditation workshops, and run a financially successful bead craft venture.
- Muzi Maphumulo, Coordinator of the Ohlange Bead Project, South Africa
"I head a self-help group of around 300 women. We need the help of The Art of Living Foundation to train and instill confidence in them to become women entrepreneurs, leaders of their community and participate in elections."
In Jharkhand, India, local women have been trained to process honey and supply it to one of the country's leading honey producers. In another unique venture, the Art of Living Foundation started the Punarnava project at Bangalore's Central Jail, which trains female inmates to manufacture incense sticks and trinkets. The proceeds from their sales serve as financial security for the women when they are released from prison. Similar projects have been initiated in other jails in India.