CSR: A Way for Gender Equality in Rural Context

Out of 85 % rural women only around a third of them own land, as per Oxfamindia data
Out of 85 % rural women only around a third of them own land, as per Oxfamindia data

Rural women are considered an essential part of Indian Agriculture. They play a crucial role in the social, economic and environmental transformation needed for the growth and development of any nation. Gender equality through economic empowerment is the process of giving them more economic opportunities and the power to make choices that benefit them, their families and their communities. To enter into any such activity women require some handful of capital from their own savings, through credit or from other institutional support as a subsidy or in the form of CSR. In these days, a number of corporate houses, NGOs and the government are engaged in the SHG formation.

Gender Equality

For gender equality to exist, women and men must have the same access to things, chances, resources, and benefits that society values.

Facts Rural Women in India

  • In India, the agriculture sector employs 80 % of all economically active women; they make up 33 % of the agriculture labour force and 48 % of self-employed farmers.

  • Out of 85 % rural women only around a third of them own land. In Bihar, the situation is much worse, with only 7 % of women holding land rights.

  • Statistics show that gender disparities in education are significant in rural communities. Female (46.58 %) receive little education than their male counterparts (71.18 %)

  • Women in rural areas generate 60-80 % of the food. (www.Oxfamindia.org)

What is CSR?

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is usually the strategy for figuring out how a business affects society and what its responsibilities are to society without damaging its financial goals.

After a change to Schedule VII of the Companies Act of 2013 in April 2014, India is the first country in the world to impose corporate social responsibility. Companies with a net worth of INR 500 crore (US$70 million) or more, an annual turnover of INR 1000 (US$140 million) or more, or a net profit of INR 5 crore (US$699,125) or more must spend 2% of their average net profits over the last three years on CSR activities. This change was made to the Companies Act in 2013. (Anonymous, 2020).

CSR and Gender Equality

For a country to have equal rights for men and women, it's important to give women more power. Women's empowerment has a lot of different parts, including social empowerment, educational empowerment, economic and professional empowerment, and legal empowerment. To figure out if CSR programmes help strengthen women, we need to look at how they promote gender equality.

As part of their CSR efforts, many companies have started a number of programmes to help women gain more power. It has been shown that when women make more money, they spend most of it on their children's schooling, health, and nutrition. This is a big plus for human development. Through the Self-Help Group (SHG) method, many companies are trying to help country women earn more money and get jobs. The SHG method to microenterprise growth has been one of the most effective ways to give rural Indian women more power.

Economic Empowerment of Rural Women through Enterprise Building

Several companies, NGOs, and the government are involved in SHG creation right now. Under different government schemes, SHGs are given financial help in the form of subsidised loans to help them grow into microenterprise activities. Even though these country women got financial help, it has been shown that many of these businesses did not last long or give them a good way to make a living. As Abraham and Kalamkar (2011) cites, this may be due to wrong choice of business activity to the area or incorrect choice, failure to market the product or service, lack of cooperation among the members of the group.

Based on the needs of the area, product or common goal-based clusters could be created in which a large number of SHGs could work together to do things like dairy, poultry, fruit and vegetable processing, etc. In this case, getting companies involved could help set up the right conditions right from the ideation and planning steps. This can be done through self-employment or by making more pay jobs.

Paradigm Role Swing Due to Women Empowerment

Empowerment is not always the same as economic empowerment. Resource theorists say that the amount of domestic violence can be affected by changes in the way power is shared between partners (Goode, 1971). In particular, physical abuse can be used to make up for a lack of power or a loss of power in a partnership. For example, if an Indian woman started getting paid work (i.e., got a source of income) and did less housework (i.e., upset the family power balance), this could be seen as a threat to the husband's power in the marriage and lead to physical violence.

A gendered resource theory, like the one created by Anderson (1997) and set in an ecology context of domestic violence, would try to find out how changing gender norms affect the "resources" of a couple in India in different ways that lead to a lot more violence. As long as they can't get their basic right to a safe place to live, they can't grow in any other way.


Women's rights should be at the centre of society as a whole, because behind every great man is a strong woman. Women in rural areas have seen a lot of change in agriculture over the years. Only then would there be jobs that last, and country women would be able to gain real economic power. So, corporate groups need to do what they need to do to make sure that rural women get the help they need during the first few months of starting a business. This will help the business last, which will lead to the women's economic freedom. Businesses that are actively setting up microenterprises in rural areas should also make sure that these businesses can provide a living wage and become self-sufficient over time.


  1. Abraham, D.T and Kalamkar S. S. (2011). Rural Entrepreneurship through Microfinance for Sustainable Development, in Arora, J.R & Basu, A. (Ed.), Management of Sustainable Development in India, Global Research Publications, New Delhi, pp.34-41.
  2. Anderson, K. (1997). Gender, Status, and Domestic Violence: An Integration of Feminist and Family Violence Approaches. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 59, 655-559.https://doi.org/10.2307/353952
  3. Anonymous (2020).  India Briefing News, 2020 (Online). https://www.india-briefing.com/news/corporate-social-responsibility-india-5511.html/#:~:text=India%20is%20the%20first%20country%20in
  4. CSRBOX (2020). Top 10 Women Empowerment Projects through CSR in India in the Financial Year 2018-19 (Online). https://csrbox.org/India_CSR_news_Top-10-Women-Empowerment-Projects-through-CSR-in-India-in-the-Financial-Year-2018-19_540
  5. Goode, W.J. (1971). Force and Violence in the Family. Journal of Marriage and Family, 33, 624-636.https://doi.org/10.2307/349435
  6. Oxfam India (2022). The Inequality Issue. https://www.oxfamindia.org/blog/inequality-issue.

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