NaariSamatā is a UK-based charity working to improve safety of women, children and underprivileged marginalised communities in India. Started by Anita Rajan, an IT professional based in London who’s passion for the cause led her to build a team and start the charity in 2021, they have already completed projects such as providing shoes and meals for school children and educational courses on gender equality for schools. They have recently introduced an “adopt a village” project that sees women and girls’ life chances improved through holistic support for the villages they grow up in.
NaariSamatā (translating to Equality for Women) is an entirely volunteer-run, UK-based charity which works to improve the safety of women, children, and underprivileged marginalised communities in India. Their vision is a safe world for all – a world where all are empowered and equality is the norm, not a privilege. They fund and manage grassroots projects on issues related to gender equality, sexuality, and empowerment, in communities where caste has been a factor that heavily influences life chances.
So far their projects have seen them train over 35 women in vocational skills, support over 68 underprivileged children, educate over 300 children about the concept of gender and provided mid-day meals for over 60 children. They have also developed an e-learning course for schools on gender norms, sexuality and prejudice. One of their larger projects is Sponsor a Girl, where individual donors are vetted and then matched up with girls in need of financial support for schooling and other basic needs.
The charity has recognised that greater empowerment and better life outcomes for women, and indeed all people, comes from an environment that fosters personal and educational development. This environment consists of so many factors including their family, school, village, and the food they grow and eat. Most of the 50 to 70 families in many villages are living well below the poverty line, with other social problems such as domestic abuse, alcoholism, and illiteracy. To tackle this, NaariSamatā works closely with their organisational partner – Women’s Welfare Initiatives, based in India – to “adopt a village,” and interact with the community more holistically to develop the necessary infrastructure.
Their current village is Chinnabettiganapalli, in Tamil Nadu. The village has 200 children aged 5-10, but only 65 were going to school. The main reason for this was the lack of a functioning toilet, meaning that male students relieved themselves outside and female students often dropped out of school, especially once menstruation made attending uncomfortable and unhygienic for them. By fixing the water supply and rebuilding the toilets, they ensured that the 27 female students already at school did not drop out, but also encouraged other local children to attend.
Funding from the Matthew Good Foundation will go towards the Adopt a Village project as work continues in the village, particularly the school, to keep improving the infrastructure. Having fixed the toilets and built a perimeter to secure the school, work is now focussed on building new classrooms, as currently teaching is made harder by having multiple year groups in the same room. After that, they would like to expand and help at least two more villages.