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CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program

26 Oct 2020

The CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program was launched in 2005 to recognise grassroots women leaders who have battled poverty, social discrimination and other challenges to emerge as leaders. 

Since then, each year, 15 women are shortlisted from nominations received from across the country, and three winners are recipients of the CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Award in the following categories: Health, Education and Micro-Enterprise. 

In its 16th year now, the Program has successfully created a network of almost 100 Exemplar who are ‘change makers’ and ‘nation builders’. With grit, vision and leadership, these women have not only transformed their lives but have created a significant impact in the communities they work with through 4 R’s: 

Resistance, Resilience, Relationships and Resurgence of new leaders. 

Each year, the Program not only identifies and recognises women but also connects the year’s cohort of women with the existing pan-India network of Exemplars. This helps the women create outwardly expanding circles of concern and influence, expanding their reach and impact. In addition to the connect with other changemakers, the Program looks at building capacity of the women through training, one-on-one mentoring and exposure to multiple platforms, avenues and opportunities

This pan-India network of Exemplars led from the front in addressing the challenges faced, especially by women, due to the outbreak of Coronavirus early this year. Several helped by way of providing food and rations, as well as medical assistance, reaching out to over 40,000 people across six states. 

Inspired by the leadership demonstrated by these women and in view of the scale and impact of the outbreak of Coronavirus, the CII Foundation identified the need for involving entire communities to prepare them better to tackle disasters at a community level. These women exemplars have a prominent role to play in connecting with and inspiring their communities to come together to combat the challenges posed by disasters and calamities. 

Through this Program, the CII Foundation is, therefore, developing solutions to deal with the long-term impact of the pandemic by building community resilience. 

The Program is aiming to make women and women-focused organisations central to the designing and implementation of the Covid-19 response, as well as all socio-economic plans since women are more severely impacted by calamities such as the outbreak of Coronavirus. This safeguards the interests of the women to see that the decisions taken by the women grassroots leaders are women-centric, that the solutions proffered are local, affordable and acceptable to the end-users, and that all actions engender self-reliance or ‘Aatmanirbharata’. 

To achieve this, the Program is focussing on building capacity of identified women leaders through regional in-person training, cascading the training to the field level, and identifying new women leaders to ensure sustained growth of the network. 

The CII Foundation will train the Woman Exemplar network in the following thematic areas:

Leadership training: The strengths and weaknesses of these women will be mapped, and they will be suitably trained to influence people and create strong organisations. This section will also include mapping of resources and understanding the role of government at various levels.
Community resilience: The women will be trained to understand and ensure that the communities are aware of the vulnerabilities and have a self-reliant plan for optimal use of their resources in times of crisis. They will also be trained to build community support networks to face the long-term impact of any disaster.
Health and hygiene: The women will be trained to ensure that each community member is aware of good health and hygiene practices that prevent the spread of disease and infection.  
Specialised sector inputs (Health/Education/Livelihood) to address challenges that the Woman Exemplars may be facing in their work will also be covered under the training programme. 

The goal is to work with about 95 Woman Exemplars trained by the CII Foundation and create a rung of 200 women leaders while building 90 resilient communities across the country. 

The CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Program will continue to bring about significant changes at the grassroots level to build a genuinely inclusive India.

To learn more about the Program and read the inspiring stories of the Woman Exemplars, click here, and to nominate the next change maker, click here.

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