Since its inception, Amar Ujala has believed in converging profit and purpose. With that ideology, we have tried to provide solutions to issues that run deep, hindering the optimal growth of the nation. We have acted as a catalyst for bringing social impact and eventually creating relevant social values.
With initiatives like helping the underprivileged children for education via the scholarship programme or rehabilitating acid and cancer survivors, Amar Ujala has been working toward creating an environment of shared prosperity. Hence the women empowerment programme “Aparajita: 100 million smiles” was a natural step in this direction.
We realised that in the sphere of gender equalisation, women were still subject to violence and had to face the brunt from an often-feudal social set-up. In fact, the 2018 National Crime Records Bureau report states there has been a 5% increase in the crime rate against women over the previous year with our key market, Uttar Pradesh, topping the charts.
“Aparajita: 100 million smiles” was launched as a culmination of this thought, looking at hardships that women face today. Sometimes they are not able to give voice to the circumstances they live in for of multiple reasons. Likewise, we recognise today the opportunities they have are also immense, and we wanted to use this campaign to facilitate their exposure and access to such opportunities.
The programme was inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in November 2018 and has since been getting support from various government representatives like governors, chief ministers, cabinet and state ministers, bureaucrats, and administrative service officers. It has also gained support from eminent personalities like the Dalai Lama and celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Ayushman Khuarana, Sania Malhotra, Vicky Kaushal, Hema Malini, Prasoon Joshi, etc., along with a host of other personnel.
The uniqueness of this project is that we do not restrict activities to a certain type, age cohort, or economic section; it is a movement and cannot be restricted in its real sense. To be more impactful, we study the background of the women target group and then identify the kind of activity or workshop that will be best suited to their needs.
The methodology followed under our Aparajita campaign involves a four-step approach:
- Educate women of all age group about their rights.
- Engage with women on relevant issues.
- Enrich women with self-belief and help develop self-confidence.
- Empower women with requisite education for their personal and professional growth.
A few workshop categories we focus on are:
- Focus group discussions.
- Self-defense workshops.
- Lecture series.
- Counseling sessions on various issues such as hygiene, awareness, legal rights, etc.
- Female health camps.
- Career counseling and personality development camps.
- Sports and cultural activities.
- Income generation through self-help groups.
- A dynamic interaction with law enforcement agencies.
- Teen advisory, etc.
The response to this initiative has been overwhelming, to say the least, as more than 2.1 million individuals across 6,800 workshops have already been part of it. Our on-ground teams have worked tirelessly on this, with approximately 16 workshops on any given day being conducted simultaneously across our geographies.
The journey is long and the real impact will be visible in times to come. However, the traces of the aftereffects have already started to emerge with stories coming in of the bravery of women.
One such small incident to cite is of a teenage girl from Saharanpur, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. She attended a police-student workshop at her school and, after attending, was able to report incidence of domestic violence at her home. This report led to a proper investigation in the case, after which counselling for the family was organised.
Such incidents give us assurance that we are moving in the right direction and, as they say, even small efforts to bring about a change in the social fabric eventually reap large fruits.