studies, as well as our experience, have shown that when women are
supported and empowered, the whole society benefits. Their families
are healthier, children go to school, income levels improve and
communities become more prosperous. But unfortunately in India,
far from being empowered, most women are denied even their basic
rights like health, education, employment and a respectable status
According to UNDP Human Development
Report (2009), 88% of pregnant women (age 15-49) were found to be
suffering from anaemia. India has a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio,
the chief reason being female infanticides and sex-selective abortions.
According to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009”
report, 47% of India's women aged 20–24 were married before
the legal age of 18.
Swabhiman, meaning self-respect
in English, was initiated in 2005 to address these challenges through
a simple yet effective approach. The programme is specifically aimed
at realization of both individual and collective self-esteem and
inner strength for marginalised and socially excluded women and
adolescent girls through innovative community practices.
A tailor-made strategy called
the ‘4 S Model’ has been developed under Swabhiman.
The ‘4 S Model’ is an acronym for four novel approaches,
namely Seeking Healthcare as a Behaviour, Support for Education,
Supporters in Men through Male Involvement, and Sustaining the Change
The programme identifies adolescent
girls and women from the community and develops them into Change
Agents, who in turn actively contribute to the community mobilization
So far, Swabhiman has successfully made a difference to the lives
of over 150,000 underprivileged women and adolescent girls.