role of ngos in women's empowerment

Why is the role of NGOs in Women’s Empowerment Essential?

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are crucial in addressing various social, economic, and environmental issues. Their importance stems from their unique ability to fill gaps, innovate, and advocate for change where governments and other institutions may fall short. While NGOs often cater to various focus groups, one of the most impactful ways NGOs have bettered society is through the empowerment of women. From grassroots advocacy to global policy reforms, NGOs ignite change and foster opportunities for women to thrive.

This blog explores the transformative role of NGOs in women's empowerment in the economic and social contexts.

Listen To This Podcast: Inspiring Change: Chitra Stern's Advocacy for Women's Empowerment and Entrepreneurship

What is Women's Empowerment?

As described by the European Institute of Gender Equality, women's empowerment refers to the process by which women gain power and control over their lives and acquire the ability to make strategic choices. Historically, women from all spheres of life have been denied the basic ability to make choices for themselves or exist independently. Often described in relation to the men in their lives, women have always been treated as the 'other' in society and confined to household duties, with their voices, thoughts, and opinions going unheard.

The idea behind women's empowerment challenges the perpetuated notion that women are somehow inherently inferior to men. Women's empowerment aims to fight the idea that women and men are differently placed in societal superstructures and aims to level the pedestals upon which both men and women stand. By fighting against oppressive structures, the main aim of women's empowerment is to better the lives of women.

Women's empowerment is a holistic process encompassing societal, economic, political, and sociocultural spheres. Through these processes, women's empowerment attempts to allow women to gain control over their lives and mitigate the social subjugation and oppression that they continue to face even in the 21st century. It is first essential to understand how to empower women before discussing the role of NGOs in women's empowerment.

How to Empower Women?

Empowering women involves addressing multiple systemic barriers that still exist and creating an environment where they can exercise their rights, fulfil their potential, and participate fully in all aspects of society.

Firstly, ensuring access to quality education and learning opportunities is essential. Basic education equips women with knowledge, skills, and confidence to pursue their aspirations and contribute meaningfully to their communities. Secondly, promoting economic empowerment through training programs in areas such as financial understanding, vocational training, and entrepreneurship support can enable women to generate income, build assets, offer opportunities for growth, and achieve financial independence.

Additionally, challenging gender norms, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices is crucial for creating a culture of gender equality and respect. This involves raising awareness, promoting positive role models, and fostering inclusive attitudes in families, communities, and workplaces. Furthermore, ensuring access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health services, is vital for women's well-being and autonomy. By guaranteeing women's rights to make informed decisions about their bodies and health, we empower them to lead healthier lives.

Moreover, it is essential to create a political and legal backdrop that allows women to flourish. This includes increasing representation of women in politics, governance, and corporate leadership, as well as fostering supportive environments that enable women to voice their opinions and influence policies that affect their lives.

While the government and other private institutions aim to foster all the above-mentioned, NGOs play a crucial role in covering the gaps left by these entities. NGOs often direct their efforts to the most marginalized and vulnerable women and provide them with basic amenities to better their quality of life. The role of NGOs in women's empowerment often goes unrecognized, yet it is cardinal to understand the vital role they play.

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Role of NGOs in Women's Empowerment

The role of NGOs in women's empowerment is critical, as it is often they that overlook the care of poor, rural, and majorly oppressed women. NGOs are essential due to their unique ability to address the multiple challenges females face globally.

NGOs often operate in areas where government efforts and initiatives fall short or are nonexistent, particularly for the well-being of rural or marginalized women. They fill critical gaps in society by implementing targeted programs and advocacy efforts tailored to women's specific needs. By providing essential services such as healthcare, education, economic support, and legal aid, NGOs ensure that women have access to resources and opportunities that enable them to assert their rights and improve their quality of life.

Initiatives Taken by NGOs

NGOs undertake a host of initiatives and other campaigns to accomplish their women empowerment goals. These actions help exemplify the role of NGOs in women's empowerment and raise awareness among women and about women.

The first critical issue NGOs aim to address is illiteracy and lack of education. It is estimated that roughly two-thirds of the adult illiterate population are women, and this often includes rural women, marginalized women, oppressed women, and countless other women who have been denied the fundamental right to education. NGOs aim to give every single woman access to education, allowing them to upskill themselves and head towards a brighter future. This focus on education and creating empowered women elucidates the importance of the role of NGOs in women's empowerment.

Next, NGOs aim to empower women by promoting various health education programs. It is paramount that women be aware of their bodies and be able to deal with any health issues that arise. Historically, women's health was often ignored, and their physical health issues were neglected. However, NGOs aim to change this by kicking off several healthcare projects that aim to improve health initiatives among women and child health care.

Another consequential perturbation that women from all walks of life often face is domestic violence. Women are subjected to countless horrors within the confines of their own homes, and it is NGOs that offer protection for women. Many women are abused physically or sexually, with many even being victims of child marriage, which is still a common atrocity faced by many rural women. Many NGOs work tirelessly to rid this world of gender-based violence and help women navigate through these unequal power relations in their homes. Additionally, NGOs provide support to survivors and aim to foster better environments for women to live in, further highlighting the invaluable role of NGOs in women's empowerment.

Furthermore, many NGOs provide economic empowerment to women through various training programs such as comprehensive training in finance, empowerment training, microfinance initiatives, and job training programmes. These training programs help create employment opportunities for women and increase financial literacy among marginalized women. The participation of women in these training programs allows for greater income-generation activities for women and can be of great benefit to low-income families, thereby once again stressing the importance of the role of NGOs in women's empowerment.

In addition, NGOs also raise awareness about the law and fair trade. By providing women with knowledge about their legal options, and providing them with loans and legal assistance, NGOs play a crucial role in raising the social positions and standing of self-employed women. Additionally, NGOs aim to educate women about fair trade guarantees, safeguarding them from unnecessary intermediaries.

Alongside this, many NGOs run programs and raise awareness about child care, especially for the girl child. These NGOs advocate against child labour and inculcate the values of child protection and welfare.

Listen To This Podcast: Inspiring Change: Chitra Stern's Advocacy for Women's Empowerment and Entrepreneurship


In conclusion, the transformative impact of NGOs on women's empowerment cannot be overstated. Through their tireless efforts, NGOs have become champions of gender equality, working to dismantle systemic barriers and create opportunities for women to thrive. NGOs play a pivotal role in addressing the diverse challenges faced by women worldwide, including access to education, healthcare, economic opportunities, and protection from violence.

NGOs empower women to assert their rights, fulfil their potential, and contribute meaningfully to society by filling gaps, innovating solutions, and advocating for change. As we continue to strive for a more just and equitable world, it is essential to recognize and support the vital role of NGOs in women's empowerment and in creating a brighter future for all.


What is the role of NGOs?

NGOs provide essential services, advocate for policy changes, raise awareness, and mobilize public support on various social, economic, environmental, and humanitarian issues. They fill gaps in service provision, influence policies, and empower communities to address systemic challenges and improve their well-being.

What is the role of NGOs in women's empowerment in India?

In India, NGOs play a crucial role in women's empowerment by providing education, vocational training, and healthcare services to marginalized women. They advocate for gender equality, raise awareness about women's rights, and combat gender-based violence. Additionally, NGOs facilitate economic opportunities, thereby signifying the role of NGOs in women's empowerment.

What are self-help groups, and how are they linked to NGOs?

Self-help groups (SHGs) are community-based organizations where members pool resources to support each other economically, socially, and emotionally. NGOs often facilitate the formation and development of SHGs, providing training, resources, and support. SHGs empower women, enhance financial inclusion, and foster community development, aligning with the notable role of NGOs in women's empowerment.

Samar Takkar

Samar Takkar is a third year undergraduate student at the Indian Institute of Psychology and Research. An avid tech, automotive and sport enthusiast, Samar loves to read about cars & technology and watch football. In his free time, Samar enjoys playing video games and driving.

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