Department of Women’s Empowerment
To focus on the special needs of blind women, NAB (India), in January 1981, established the Committee for Advancement of the Status of Blind Women (CASBW). CASBW renamed Department of Women’s Empowerment (DWE) in November 2012, primarily aims at socio-economic empowerment and mainstreaming of blind women, besides ensuring them rehabilitation and welfare services and capacitating them to play a more pro-active role in the society.
- Financial support for education, self-employment, medical requirements, house-repair and social rehabilitation
- Basic counseling, domiciliary and referral service for educational, marital, legal and family-related issues
- Educational scholarships (instituted in the memory late Mrs. Kusum Maluste, former Chairperson of CASBW)
- Sponsorships for computer education, sports and excursions
- Short-term training programs
- Pre-marital counseling workshops for visually challenged women and men of marriageable age
- Life skills development program
- Training in craft and enhancing culinary skills
- Medical camps and health-care programs
- Talent competitions
- Personality development programs
- Training programs to enhance marketing skills.
Major on-going projects
DWE Training Centre: Aimed at offering training and earning opportunity to blind women on “earn while you learn” basis, the Department set up in 1988 a Training Centre at NAB (India)’s Rustom Alpaiwalla Complex at Cotton Green, Mumbai. This Centre has been successful in socio-economic rehabilitation of hundreds of blind women in Maharashtra.
The Centre’s Rakhi and Diwali Festival Projects are a major source of income for blind women. Products like decorative wax and gel candles, dry flowers, photo frames, tea-light holders and jute bags made by these women, are ideal as corporate gifts and have always been in great demand at exhibitions in which the Department participates.
The Centre’s trainees are also helped to form self-help groups, to encourage greater economic self-reliance.
NAB-Trupti: In July 2000, the Department started on an experimental basis a Canteen at NAB (India)’s head office at Worli Seaface, with the objective to train visually challenged women in food preparation and kitchen management. Subsequently, with the financial support from the Indian Merchants’ Chamber Ladies Wing, the Canteen was renovated and named “Trupti Poli Bhaji Kendra.” Trupti caters to the staff and the visitors at NAB (India) head office. Tea, coffee, breakfast and lunch are served on all working days and when need arises, on non-working days too. The dry snacks like Chiwda, Chaklis and Laddoos made at the canteen are in great demand. Trupti has provided employment opportunity to four visually challenged women.
Hostel for Blind Working Women and College Girls: In April 2006, with a generous donation from Mrs. Vatsala Joshi and Mrs. Damayanti Joshi, the Department started the Smt. Vatsala Joshi & Smt. Damayanti Joshi Hostel for Blind Working Women and College Girls, at the NAB Kaka Patil Centre for the Blind at Andheri, Mumbai. This first of its kind service introduced by NAB (India), provides affordable residential facility to 14 blind women pursuing education/employment in Mumbai.
Neelum Khurshed Kanga Awards
Each year, the Department honors blind women achievers who attain distinction in academics, sports or their chosen professions like medicine, physiotherapy, teaching, computer science, astrology, mountaineering and so on. These awards, instituted in 1983 in the memory of Mrs. Neelum Khurshed Kanga – a fund-raiser par excellence and an ardent supporter of NAB (India) and the visually challenged – have so far been presented to .. visually challenged women.
Haldi Kumkum is a traditional event celebrated in India where get-togethers are organized by women for women. Such functions give women the opportunity to meet and spend good time with each other in a pleasant environment. Understanding the potential of this occasion in facilitating blind women to socialize, interact and share and resolve their problems, the Department arranges Haldi Kumkum program every year for its trainees and staff.