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BCCI announces equal pay for men and women cricket team

It is the first time that Indian men’s and women’s professional game has been combined under one master agreement…reports Asian Lite News

In a landmark moment to tackle gender ‘discrimination’ in cricket, Jay Shah, the Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), announced on Thursday that the country’s female cricketers will now earn the same amount of match fees as their male counterparts.

While saying that Indian cricket is moving towards a new era of gender equality, Shah also announced that the BCCI will also be implementing a pay equity policy for the contracted India women’s cricket team players.

“I’m pleased to announce @BCCI’s first step towards tackling discrimination. We are implementing a pay equity policy for our contracted @BCCIWomen cricketers. The match fee for both Men and Women Cricketers will be the same as we move into a new era of gender equality in Indian Cricket,” said Shah through his official Twitter handle.

“In our Apex Council meeting today, we have made a marquee decision on pay equity for our women cricketers. Our women players will be paid the same match fees as men in international cricket. This decision sets the platform to grow and develop cricket. I believe this is a significant step forward for women’s cricket and the game overall,” said Roger Binny, BCCI President, in an official statement.

As per the announcement, India’s women cricketers will be paid the same match fee as their male counterparts, both female and male cricketers will earn INR 15 lakh as Test match fee while playing in an ODI and T20I will fetch them match fees of INR 6 lakh and 3 lakh respectively.

It is the first time that Indian men’s and women’s professional game has been combined under one master agreement.

“It was my commitment to our women cricketers and pay equity is an important step towards tackling discrimination. The female cricketers will be paid the same match fee as their male counterparts.”

“This is a landmark decision as we enter a new era in India Cricket. I would like to thank my colleagues in the BCCI Apex Council,” added Shah.

In July this year, New Zealand had announced in a five-year agreement that their women’s and men’s cricketers will earn the same match fees across all formats at the international as well as domestic level.

“This is a revolutionary step for the women’s game and I believe this move will serve as a motivation for the present and future stars of women’s cricket. A lot was spoken about the way forward for the women’s game and I believe pay equity is a step towards that direction. It is an important move, a hallmark one at that and I am sure this will hold the game in good stead going forward,” said Rajeev Shukla, vice president, BCCI.

Of course, the same match fee does not mean real pay parity in Indian cricket as there is currently a huge disparity in the central contract fee that the men and women are offered. But match fees parity is a step in the right direction for more much equalities in the future.

“To support the players of the present and tomorrow, this move will prove to be a game-changer. Women’s cricket is on the rise and the decision of pay equity for our women’s cricketers is another giant step in BCCI’s continuous endeavour to bolster the game. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members in the BCCI Apex Council who supported the decision,” said Ashish Shelar, Treasurer, BCCI.

As of now, the centrally-contracted male players get INR 7 crore, INR 6 crore, INR 3 crore and INR 1 crore in four categories (A+, A, B, C) while the women players get INR 50 lakh, INR 30 lakh and INR 10 lakh each in three grades (A, B, C). The BCCI is yet to announce the latest set of contracts for the upcoming season for both men’s and women’s players.

“The Indian women’s cricket team has continuously made the country proud with their superb performances across the globe and pay equity is a significant move to appreciate the hard yards the team has been putting in to yield magnificent results.”

“I am delighted that the BCCI Apex Council has taken this historic decision as women’s cricket in India continues to rise. This landmark decision will certainly help in removing gender disparity and encourage more girls to take cricket as a profession,” concluded Devajit Saikia, Joint Secretary, BCCI.

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Gram Bharati 2022 : Gathering of women from self-help groups across India

The exhibition was organised at the Adani Corporate House, Ahmedabad, and was inaugurated by Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group, on the first day of Navratri…reports Asian Lite News

The Gram Bharati 2022 exhibition which brought together women from self-help groups across India, housed a wide range of stalls that saw an array of beautiful handicrafts, artefacts, jewelleries, and delicious food products.

For many of these women, the journey has been full of life-altering challenges and extraordinary struggles which they overcame with perseverance, hard work, and dedication. These difficulties taught them to become self-sufficient and rely on learning livelihood skills with the help of organisations like the Adani Foundation.

The recently held Gram Bharati 2022 exhibition, served as a platform to showcase the promising talent of several such remarkable female entrepreneurs.

Various women’s self-help groups from different parts of the country such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh affiliated with the Adani Foundation participated in this program. However, the handicrafts exhibited by the self-help group hailing from Mundra (Gujarat) were the most talked about.

The exhibition was organised at the Adani Corporate House, Ahmedabad, and was inaugurated by Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group, on the first day of Navratri.

The visionary leader also launched a book, ‘Pragati’, which talks about success stories of 75 female entrepreneurs from Mundra. Also present at the inaugural event was Dr. Priti Adani, chairperson of the Adani Foundation. The power couple was seen visiting the stalls and interacting with the budding entrepreneurs.

Some of the notable handicrafts from the Kutch district that was showcased at the event included the well-known suf bharat embroidery, wall hangings, bags, dresses, lacework, mud work, lamps, frames, Kutch dhadki, pearl work, various woollen products along with several lip-smacking local snacks. The 3-day event witnessed tremendous footfall.

The exhibition also saw women entrepreneurs participating from the hinterland of India. The women of Umarpada village of Surat district presented delicious varieties of bamboo pickles.

These tribal women who have been making bamboo pickles at home for years now are now being professionally trained by various self-help groups and organisations like the Adani Foundation and Mission Mangalam, on how to preserve these pickles for a longer time and commercialize it. They are also trained in making papad, other types of pickles, and spices.

Sugantben and Rajilaben of the Dhanvad self-help group, who presented the products made by these tribal women were elated to be at such a prestigious event. “It’s been a dream come true, to be present at such a large-scale exhibition and we have been getting so many pickle orders.

“It’s heartwarming to witness so much support and we are now certain that this is going to be beneficial for all the 35 members associated with our self-help group.”

Sharing her experience, Nitaben Koka of the Meghdhanush Group, who participated in the event, says, “It’s been an enthralling experience to show our work to such a huge audience and at such a prestigious platform. I’m grateful to the Adani Foundation for giving us this opportunity, which will certainly help us shape ourselves and make our image stronger in society.”

Prajna of Kapaya’s Shraddha Saheli Group adds, “We all were in for a surprise when Gautam Adani sir bought our product after tasting it.

“Undoubtedly it was the most cherished moment for us.”

The Mundra-based self-help group earned more than Rs 1.50 lakhs within two days of the exhibition and were able to secure orders worth around Rs 1 lakh.

Also present at the exhibition were V.S. Gadhavi, executive director, of Adani Foundation, and Chandra Shekhar Gowda, chief operating officer, of Adani Foundation. Along with Rakshit Shah, executive director of the Adani Ports & SEZ (APSEZ), Panktiben Shah, CSR head, Adani Foundation (Mundra), Devalben Gadhvi, Kutch Women’s Empowerment

Project Officer played pivotal roles in making this exhibition a success.

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Business UAE News

Real Estate group becomes #1 workplace for women in GCC

Angelica Noceja, Metropolitan’s HR Manager said: “We have been aggressively recruiting since the beginning of the year and actively look for female talent as diversity is of the utmost importance to our group…reports Asian Lite News

Metropolitan Group, a leading real estate group in the UAE, was recognized as the best place to work for women in the GCC according to the ‘Best Workplaces for Women™ 2022 ranking. The top 30 Best Workplaces for Women in GCC recognises organisations across the region that are working hard to close the gender gap while sustaining high-performing cultures for their employees.

The Great Place to Work® Middle East surveyed thousands of female employees from across the region to determine the 2022 Best Workplaces for Women™.  Metropolitan’s recognition is based on the Great Place to Work®️ audit and confidential survey data assessing female employee experiences of trust, innovation, company values and leadership.

Ibrahim Mougharbel, Managing Director for the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, Great Place to Work®️ Middle East commented: “We’re very excited that Metropolitan Group ranked first in our Great Place to Work®️ Best Workplaces for Women™ list. Female employees have shared that they are treated fairly regardless of their position. This fair treatment indicates that Metropolitan Group exerts outstanding efforts in creating a work environment that empowers women. It is remarkable to see companies recognising the value women add to any workplace. Providing purposeful work is essential, which resulted in female employees stating that they are proud to be working at Metropolitan Group.”

Mike Fleet, Metropolitan’s Performance & Development Director said: “We are delighted with this achievement as it’s not only great recognition for our overall culture but it is a fantastic endorsement for the work we have done to ensure that our female employees, who represent 60% of the Metropolitan family, can thrive in a positive and rewarding place to work. Right from the beginning, the company’s leadership has focused on creating a high-performance culture and inclusive environment; and today with 40% of our directors and 80% of our middle management being female, we are delighted to see that many of the initiatives we rolled out have had a significant positive impact on women in the workplace.”

Angelica Noceja, Metropolitan’s HR Manager said: “We have been aggressively recruiting since the beginning of the year and actively look for female talent as diversity is of the utmost importance to our group. We have female influence on our board and across many senior-level positions with 35 nationalities represented across the company. We work hard to recognise talent and performance in the company; in fact this year from external hiring to internal promotions we have eight women at Director or Head of Department level.”  

In March this year, Metropolitan became the first-ever real estate brokerage to make the Top 50 Best Workplaces™ in the UAE List and later in August, the company made it into the top 5 (medium category) of the Best Workplaces™ in the GCC.

The Metropolitan Group in the UAE includes two full-service real estate agencies: Metropolitan Premium Properties (Dubai) and Metropolitan Capital Real Estate LLC (Abu Dhabi). The group also has Metropolitan Consulting FZE, a supporting company that provides personal and business legal services in the UAE.

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Lite Blogs Woman

‘They are strong-willed and invincible no matter what life throws at them’

Sulu from ‘Tumhari Sulu’: Dia says, “Vidya Balan is one of the bravest actors we have and I can vouch for it because she worked in my production ‘Bobby Jasoos’ and played one of Hindi cinema’s few female detectives…reports Asian Lite News

It is a myth that strong female characters have emerged only in recent times. As actor, producer, investor and climate champion, Dia Mirza points out, they have been around since the inception of Hindi cinema. She says, “I remember watching V Shantaram’s 1959 film ‘Duniya Na Maane’ on Doordarshan as a child and being mesmerised by the great Shanta Apte. She played a rebellious young woman who refuses to accept a forced marriage to an older man and does not sacrifice her happiness despite being pressured to do so. Films like ‘Arth’, ‘Bhumika’, ‘Subah’, ‘Sparsh’ and ‘Mirch Masala’ further expanded the space occupied by a Hindi film heroine. Even in a purely commercial space, stars like Nargis, Meena Kumari, Rekha, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, and so many others have commanded equal footing as their male counterparts and played strong uncompromising characters.”

In recent times too, Dia has loved many female protagonists on the big and small screen and says, “The reason why I like them is that they are strong-willed and invincible no matter what life throws at them. Women who tend to find their own way on and off the screen inspire me.” Here is her pick of some memorable female characters:

Sulu from ‘Tumhari Sulu’: Dia says, “Vidya Balan is one of the bravest actors we have and I can vouch for it because she worked in my production ‘Bobby Jasoos’ and played one of Hindi cinema’s few female detectives. In ‘Tumhari Sulu’, she plays a very ordinary homemaker but what makes her extraordinary is her self-belief because that is what transforms her life. The scene where she dances to a Sridevi song very subtly shows how women can inspire each other to realise their dreams. It was such a lovely, empowering moment.”

Vidya Vincent from ‘Sherni’: “As someone who has worked over many years for the environment and is deeply concerned about issues like deforestation and compromised animal habitats, this film touched me deeply,” says Dia and adds, “The themes of ecofeminism and environmental empathy in collision with entrenched patriarchy and administrative corruption are very new to Hindi cinema. Vidya played a straight-backed idealistic forest officer in the film and I rooted for her and the tiger mom she was trying to protect, all through.”

Shabana from ‘Naam Shabana’: This film is about a tragedy-scarred young girl who becomes a field agent to deal with her past and manages to avenge the murder of a loved one. Dia says, “I loved working with Taapsee Pannu in ‘Thappad’ and ‘Naam Shabana’ was one of the first films of hers that I watched and loved. I really liked the fact that she is not treated as a victim but a hero in the film. Issues like eve-teasing and domestic abuse were also dealt with so well and the film powerfully showed how much courage women are capable of even in the most horrific circumstances.”

Kainaaz from ‘Kaafir’: This web television series on ZEE5 told the poignant story of a displaced woman played by Dia herself, and the actor says, “I play Kainaaz in ‘Kaafir’, a woman from Pakistan-administered Kashmir who ends up on the Indian side of the Line-of-Control (LOC), is mistaken as a militant and imprisoned. She spends seven years in incarceration and even gives birth to a daughter and her courage astounded me because women, though most vulnerable in volatile situations, also display the most resilience. It was an absolute honour to play this character and to live and breathe her extraordinary journey.”

Piku: “I know from experience that after a certain stage in life, the roles of parents and children are reversed and you end taking care of those who once devoted their lives to you,” says Dia and adds, “This is why I loved ‘Piku’ because it explores this shift with such affection, wit, ease and simplicity. This is not a film that preaches subservience to parents or guilt-trips children. In fact, Deepika Padukone’s Piku is such an irreverent daughter, and yet her devotion to her father is unshakable. This was such a realistic film that makes you laugh and cry and makes you see life through the gaze of a very spunky and yet sensitive woman.”

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SHE STEMS to prepare Omani women for nation’s manufacturing 

Emphasizing hands-on skills development and on-the-job training, SHE STEMS aims to prepare more Omani women for the nation’s manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sectors…reports Asian Lite News

Believing in the importance of joint work between the public and private sectors, as well as emphasizing the principle of integration between the service units of the state’s administrative apparatus, and in order to achieve the objectives of Oman’s Vision 2040, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MoHERI) on Tuesday 9 August 2022 signed the SHE STEMS social development program agreement with Oman Cables Industry (OCI) and the Ministry of Labour (MoL).

The program was signed on behalf of MoHERI by Her Excellency Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al-Mahrooqi – Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation; for the MoL by the Ministry’s Undersecretary for Human Resources Development Salim bin Musallam al Busaidi; and for OCI by the company’s CEO Cinzia Farisè.

Emphasizing hands-on skills development and on-the-job training, SHE STEMS aims to prepare more Omani women for the nation’s manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sectors.

Registration in the program starts in September 2020 with a first cohort of 20 Omani women who will attend an extensive 6-month practical “Operating Maintenance” course certified by MoHERI. The training will be supervised by a number of highly proficient, qualified instructors. Upon completion, each participant will receive a SHE STEMS certificate recognized by MoHERI.

The eligibility criteria for participants are: Omani nationals aged between 18 to 28 years who are registered as job seekers with the Ministry of Labour, and who have a General Education Diploma as a minimum academic qualification. (It should be noted that this training will not be applicable if the candidate has attended other training supported by the Oman government). For enrollment, interested parties apply through before August 25th, 2022.

Speaking about the SHE STEMS program, Her Excellency Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al-Mahrooqi stressed the importance of engaging all vital sectors in the effort to achieve the goals of the nation’s comprehensive development plans, and to implement Oman’s ambitious Vision 2040 with regard to building promising national employees in all fields. Her Excellency Al-Mahrooqi explained that she valued OCI’s initiative in collaboration with the MoHERI and MoL, which would serve to develop the skills of Omani women, and open new horizons for them in the labour market.

Her Excellency Al-Mahrooqi also indicated the Ministry’s keenness to cooperate with many sectors to ensure the quality of programs directed at female graduates and job seekers is maintained. This would ensure that participants receive high quality practical skills and work ethics, which would qualify and empower them to compete in local and international labour markets.

Underlining its support for SHE STEMS, the Ministry of Labour affirmed its full readiness to cooperate in this qualitative program and to provide the necessary support and incentives to contribute to the upgrading of human resources in the Sultanate of Oman.

According to Cinzia Farisè, CEO of Oman Cables Industry, the SHE STEMS program is considered an important milestone in OCI’s social ambition to support the local community. “We are very pleased and honored to launch this program in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and the Ministry of Labour. SHE STEMS forms part of a global initiative that has been molded, initiated, and launched within the Sultanate of Oman. This is an exciting program that aligns closely with OCI’s stated values of Innovation, Empowerment, and Excellence. We are confident that it will attract and empower more Omani unemployed women to achieve excellence in their individual career fields within Oman,” Cinzia Farisè explained.

The CEO added: “As part of the Prysmian Group, OCI is launching SHE STEMS as a joint amalgamation with Prysmian’s sustainability development strategy and goals, and within the framework of the Prysmian Social Ambition 2030 objectives of Diversity; Equality and Inclusion; Digital Inclusion; Community Empowerment; and Employee Engagement & Upskilling.”

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UAE News

NAMA to expand footprints in empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide

Since its commencement in South Africa, projects initiated under FPI have enhanced the capacities of more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to participate in various value chains…reports Asian Lite News

During a recent field visit to South Africa, NAMA Women Advancement (NAMA) reviewed  both the achievements and challenges of its “Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs” flagship programme, launched in the country in partnership with UN Women in 2018 to remove structural barriers to gender equality and foster women’s economic empowerment.

Participating in a series of roundtable discussions, briefing meetings, and field visits with HE Mahash Saeed Al Hameli, UAE Ambassador to South Africa, Fatima Yousuf Al Suwaidi, First Secretary at the UAE Embassy in South Africa, stakeholders, national partners, and beneficiaries of the programme during the five-day visit,  NAMA also identified areas for improvement and new opportunities to expand its footprints in empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide.

With a focus on South Africa and the UAE, the Flagship Programme Initiative (FPI)  is designed to build and maximise the capacity of women-owned businesses to benefit from public and private sector procurement contracts, especially in non-traditional sectors. By leveraging the commitment of the government and corporate sectors, the programme aims to foster the creation of an SME support ecosystem and facilitate access to new procurement markets and finance, while also addressing the demand and supply constraints of buyers and entrepreneurs.

Leading the NAMA delegation, Her Excellency Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, outlined the transformational potential of creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs by leveraging gender-responsive procurement as a force for strengthening the capacities of women business owners to access finance and enterprise development.

A broad range of stakeholders including representatives of UN Women, officials from the South African government, private sector entities – namely signatories of Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), representatives of women associations, local NGOs, and training institutions were part of the visit that highlighted the progress of NAMA’s flagship programme activities in South Africa to identify best practices and lessons learned.

Creating an equitable future

Implemented in partnership with UN Women, governments, the private sector, investors, civil society, women entrepreneurs, and women’s enterprise associations, the ongoing Flagship Programme Initiative offers capacity building to women-owned enterprises. Under the FPI, UN Women has also spearheaded high-level advocacy and dialogue to place gender-responsive procurement as a strategic lever for driving women’s enterprise development.

Commenting on the visit, Her Excellency Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, said: “We are committed to promoting gender equality and empowering female entrepreneurs and business owners, by creating market opportunities for women-led businesses worldwide. Providing them with equal opportunities enables women entrepreneurs to grow and thrive as leaders, innovators, and high-impact changemakers.”

She added: “Guided by the vision and strong leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of NAMA, our strategic collaboration with UN Women in launching the Flagship Programme Initiative is aiming to transform the business landscape and close gender gaps in South Africa by promoting women’s economic empowerment. Together with the unwavering support of our partner, UN Women, NAMA is fulfilling its vision of uplifting women and creating a more equitable future for women worldwide.”

Aleta Miller, South Africa Multi-Country Representative for UN Women said “UN Women’s long standing partnership with NAMA Advancement for Women, & the South African Government & people, has led to positive,  tangible outcomes for women across South Africa.

What’s made the programme implemented with support of  NAMA Advancement for Women so successful, is working at all levels to overcome systemic structural barriers .This included two key strategies: facilitating women’s access to procurement opportunities from both the public and private sector by creating an  enabling environment; and providing  consistent capacity support to women-owned  enterprises

South Africa demonstrates the power of bringing women into the economy, & NAMA Advancement for Women has played a key role in supporting a host of successful initiatives.”

Reaching over 16,000 women in South Africa

Since its commencement in South Africa, projects initiated under FPI have enhanced the capacities of more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to participate in various value chains.

A total of 6,452 women entrepreneurs have benefited from skills and capacity development programmes, enhancing their participation in procurement processes and increasing their access to business opportunities, income, and growth. Five sustainable and scalable capacity-building ecosystem approaches and models for women-owned businesses have also been developed here to date.

Leveraging the technology of Buyfromwomen, an innovative e-commerce platform, the flagship project has connected Women Owned Enterprises (WOEs) in Energy, Transport, Agriculture and General Entrepreneurship to improve access to markets.

With x7 modules, the Learning Management System (LMS) assisted women in assessing online self-paced training during Covid-19. Of the 3,693 women who were profiled, 1,264 enrolled on the LMS.

UN Women’s advocacy efforts further delivered results when the President of South Africa earmarked 40 per cent of public procurement projects for women-owned enterprises. Key government sector departments such as the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Department of Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities have commenced procurement spending on women-owned businesses in the sanitary dignity value chain. 

In line with the programme goals  in 2019, the Amathole District Municipality reviewed its supply chain policies and set specific targets for women-owned enterprises, effectively increasing its procurement spend on women-owned businesses from 4% to 38%. Together with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), UN Women worked with the municipality to mobilise 300 WOBs within the targeted district to learn about their participation in supply chains and create a database of women-owned enterprises in the Amathole District.

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Sport Sports

Women’s team extends unbeaten run at Chess Olympiad

Vaishali played splendidly in a drawn position, pressurising her opponent with precise positive play and finally scoring a delightful victory…reports Asian Lite News

Indian women’s A team notched up their seventh successive victory against sixth seed Azerbaijan with a 2.5-1.5 score to maintain their sole lead in the women’s section with 14 points at the 44th Chess Olympiad in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu on Friday.

India A, though, suffered a few hiccups after Humpy ended on the losing side in the first game. However, Tania Sachdev and R Vaishali once again rose to the occasion magnificently by scoring hard fought victories while Harika Dronavalli also battled hard to split the point.

Vaishali played splendidly in a drawn position, pressurising her opponent with precise positive play and finally scoring a delightful victory.

Vaishali later commented, “Till the 40th turn, my game was dead equal and I considered settling for a draw. After Humpy’s loss, I had to keep pressing and interestingly, this was one position which we had worked in the camp with Boris Gelfand and I followed his suggestions to the ‘T’.”

A hall mark of the women’s A team has been the ability of every player to score a win when the team needed it most.

“The way Harika, Vaishali and Tania continued in this pressure situation is very heartening. The players understand the situation perfectly and deliver,” India A captain Abhijit Kunte said.

Meanwhile in the open section, India A hit the accelerator when it mattered, defeating fellow countrymen in India C with a 3-1 score.

Arjun Erigaisi defeated Abhijit Gupta and S L Narayanan outplayed Abhimany Puranik even while Pnetala Harikrishna was held to a draw by Surya Shekhar Ganguly and SP Sethuraman forced Vidit to split the point.

India B, after a loss to Armenia in the 6th round, bounced back with a 3.5-0.5 score against Cuba with D Gukesh leading from the front once again to notch his seventh successive victory in the tournament.

Nihal Sarin and R Praggnanandhaa too made merry with two fine victories while Adhiban B was held to a draw.

In another setback for the star-studded USA Team, Armenia held them to a 2-2 draw and continued their sole vigil at the top of the points tally with 13 points. India A and India B, USA , Uzbekistan are trailing behind with 12 points each.

India B in the women section lost to Greece 1.5-2.5.

Divya Deshmukh scored the lone victory for India while Vantika Agrawal and Soumya Swaminathan lost their encounters and Mary Ann Gomes had to stay content with a draw.

India Women C team defeated Switzerland 3-1.

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India News

Amarnath Yatra a blessing for these women

The recent cloud burst and the resultant flash floods, in which several Amarnath pilgrims died, is an example of how extreme and erratic the weather can be in the region…reports Asian Lite News

Sushma Devi, a member of Baba Hardev, a self-help group (SHG) in Jammu’s Samba district, stitches raincoats and tracksuits for pilgrims visiting the Amarnath cave shrine. She’s part of a 13-member women’s group that works across different SHGs in Samba, for whom the annual yatra has become a means to ameliorate their families’ financial constraints.

The 13 members of Baba Hardev also make these garments for officials of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, who are deputed at different locations in Kashmir, including the base camps of Baltal and Nunwan.

The initiative to involve these women in stitching the tracksuits and raincoats was taken after it was decided that these shrine board officials, at the base camps of the 43-day-long pilgrimage, would wear uniforms in the form of tracksuits, says Indu Kanwal Chib, director of the Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKRLM).

“It was also important to provide them with raincoats as the weather is unpredictable in these areas in the Valley, and monsoon is already here,” she adds.

The recent cloud burst and the resultant flash floods, in which several Amarnath pilgrims died, is an example of how extreme and erratic the weather can be in the region.

After these women provided the required material to the officials, they decided to stitch the same for the pilgrims. Within just a week of the yatra’s commencement on June 30, over one lakh pilgrims visited the holy cave shrine in Kashmir. The union territory administration permitted women in at least seven districts to set up stalls at different locations along the route. In fact, women in Samba had their stalls erected along the national highway in the district, from where the pilgrimage passes after entering Jammu & Kashmir.

Clinging to hope with ‘Umeed’

The JKRLM’s Umeed scheme aims to alleviate poverty by identifying and organising the poor and engaging them in livelihoods that enable them to tap into their potential. Its mission is to reach out to 66 per cent of the rural population across the 125 blocks of Jammu & Kashmir and link them to sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Panchayats and district development councils identify women in need for the SHGs. The government provides Rs 15,000 on the initiation of a SHG, followed by other monetary help, including Rs 40,000 as a loan to these women. They can also seek a loan to purchase raw material for the products they make.

Sushma, who has a daughter and a son, says the Baba Hardev SHG under Umeed provides her much-needed financial help to sustain her family. Her husband works as a daily wager with the Jal Shakti department, but doesn’t earn enough to sustain a family of four, including their children’s education expenses.

During other times of the year, Sushma sells homemade snacks and other eatables; this is her first time catering to the pilgrims. She’s also started a boutique at her home, where women from nearby villages come to get their clothes stitched.

Exploring various livelihood options

Women in Samba and other districts of J&K are also engaged in making bamboo products, rakhis, file covers and other handcrafted items. Before the pilgrimage, this used to be their primary source of income.

Sonia Kumari, who works with another SHG in Samba, earns Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,500 every month through the sale of bamboo buckets and other showpieces as well as sleeping bags. For the Amarnath pilgrimage, the buckets are filled with sweets that are offered to the deity as prasad and sold to the pilgrims going to or returning from the holy cave shrine.

“The women of our SHG purchase the cloth, foam and zipper to make the sleeping bags from Pathankot in Punjab as the raw material is cheaper there,” says Sonia. “We earn a profit of nearly Rs 300 on each sleeping bag. The sale has increased owing to the inflow of pilgrims, and a stall has been set up along the national highway near a prominent temple in Samba.”

Since the beginning of the Amarnath Yatra on June 30, Sonia has been earning Rs 2,500 a week just by selling sleeping bags. Members of the group divide the total money earned through the sales in accordance with the tasks they undertook.

Women prepare buckets for sanctified sweets in Samba district for people visiting the Amarnath temple.

Empowering women the SHG way

Chib says many such SHGs also operated in Kashmir, especially in the villages of Kulgam district, stitching gloves, socks and other woollens for the pilgrims.

“At least seven to eight SHGs there work towards making essentials, including raincoats, woolens and sleeping bags. The shrine board paid nearly Rs 4.5 lakh to produce them for the Amarnath officials,” she adds.

Nilofer (last name withheld on request) from Kulgam district had been struggling with financial difficulties. The 32-year-old mother of two couldn’t even afford to send her children to school till last year. Her husband works as a helper of a truck driver and is mostly away from home, travelling with his vehicle to Punjab, Haryana, New Delhi and other places.

“I joined an SHG under the Umeed scheme in the area to support my family financially. Here, we make snacks, woollen gloves and socks. The opportunity not only allowed me to earn but also provide better education to my children. While the Amarnath pilgrimage provides much needed financial support to those directly associated with it, even the SHGs providing essential items to the pilgrims are benefitting,” says Nilofer.

ALSO READ-Amarnath tragedy could have been averted

India News

Wave of new-age enterprising women in J&K

At the beginning of the year, Kashmir exported handicrafts (including carpets) worth millions to Germany…reports Asian Lite News

Women are at the forefront of all entrepreneurial initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory. Lakhs of women across the UT are utilising the Centre’s schemes meant to encourage self-sufficiency through interest-free loans, subsidised raw materials, free skill coaching programs, and other monetary and vocational training benefits.

The Lt Governor e-inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for New District Rural Haats spread across the UT and dedicated the facility to women entrepreneurs.

Up until three years ago, women participating in upliftment of rural economy was unheard of. But today, the result of this entrepreneurship movement shows their focused pursuit of excellence.

It is these women in far-flung areas who keep the socio-economic progress of J&K going. Their contributions to the government’s efforts to reduce disparities and inequalities are commendable. The LG highlighted the importance of women’s potential as leaders and change-makers in society.

Government initiatives like SAATH, HAUSLA, UMEED, and TEJASWINI have created a culture, almost a need for the financial independence of rural women. Usually, people in remote and rural areas are agriculture dependent; their employment is seasonal and that gives them a lot of idle time. Right direction and collaborative efforts between men and women can lead to constructive employment in other sectors of the economy resulting in optimum use of manpower and a dignified way of earning bread for the rural population.

The Centre is aiding the women with the necessary technical know-how and marketing tools for their small businesses. Many women who started from their homes today have opened up hands-on learning centres.

Some Self-Help Groups have created a niche for their products and are fiercely fighting on online platforms like Amazon India for a spot. Some products like the well-known Kashmiri carpets are competing for global recognition in international markets.

Last week Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha attended an event for Women Entrepreneurs organised by J&K Rural Livelihood Mission at Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre in Srinagar.

At the beginning of the year, Kashmir exported handicrafts (including carpets) worth millions to Germany.

Kashmir handicrafts and handlooms are a focal point in Jammu and Kashmir’s Trade and Export Policy (2018-2028), which envisages it to grow almost five times in the next five years. The policy provides an e-commerce platform for artisans to foster the growth of the handicrafts sector. In line with the policy, the LG hopes to attract as many women to the handicrafts sector since it requires a small industrial setup — feasible for women who wish to earn in the comfort of their homes.

One recent example is a resident of Ashmuji village in Kulgam district of South Kashmir, Ruby Jan. Under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) she acquired a loan to start a bakery shop. She and her brother are earning about Rs 25,000 monthly. Seeing the success of their humble shop, more than 200 women have followed suit registering themselves with NRLM. This is the women empowerment that JKUT is aiming for.

Today 5 lakh women are a part of 56,000 Self-Help-Groups in the UT. In 2022 assistance and support will be extended to an additional 1.5 lakh women entrepreneurs.

This Independence Day, 75 progressive women entrepreneurs from Rural Livelihood Mission Self Help Groups will be honoured for their contribution to women empowerment.

At the event the Lt Governor unveiled the Product Catalog of Self-Help Groups and JKRLM’s gift hamper. He also distributed Micro ATMs and felicitated the outperforming Sakhies. Inspecting the live stalls, the LG declared to procure the SHGs products for use in the government departments and popularise them further.

Rural Livelihood Mission is heavily focusing on the branding and packaging aspect of these goods. Packaging is the first introduction of a product to a prospecting customer. A district-wise packaging unit is being set up to assist the SHGs with this. Besides this, 2,600 individual enterprises will kickstart under the Start-Up Village Enterprise Program. A micro food processing campaign is another initiative in talks for women entrepreneurs.

Public welfare reforms introduced by the government in the last two years are finally paying dividends and the people on the final ladder of development are receiving the benefits. JKUT is witnessing an impressive turnaround in various industrial sectors improving the quality of life. Engagement of all in the economic progress will uplift all sections of the social hierarchy. As the youth is involving themselves with contributing to the economy, their attention towards violence and terrorism imported to Kashmir by parties with a vested interest is slowly evaporating. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop; while a goal-oriented mind can move mountains. And this is the progress Jammu and Kashmir has been aiming for.

ALSO READ-Women in Jammu realise true potential of SHGs during pandemic

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Biden vows to protect women travelling for abortions

President Joe Biden said that his administration will also “ensure access to pills that caused abortion in states where it was prohibited”, reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden said that women travelling for abortions across the country will be protected by the federal government as millions of women have lost their constitutional reproductive right after the Supreme Court overturned its 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision.

Addressing a virtual meet of Democratic Governors on Friday, the President said that his administration will also “ensure access to pills that caused abortion in states where it was prohibited”, reports the BBC.

He also expressed his opinion that some states would attempt to arrest women who crossed state lines for abortion access.

“I don’t think people believe that’s going to happen. But it’s going to happen,” the BBC quoted the President as saying.

On June 24, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision that established a constitutional right to abortion in the nation.

The decision came after the Supreme Court had considered an appeal case involving a Mississippi law banning all abortions over 15 weeks gestational age except in certain circumstances.

Thirteen states have already severely curtailed or blocked abortion access since the court’s decision.

ALSO READ: Massive protests in US as abortion right ends