MUMBAI, India, July 31, 2012–An Indian committed to defending and promoting the rights of women and girls is one of the winners of the 2012Ramon Magsaysay Award, better known as the “Nobel Prize of Asia”. Kulandei Francis, founder and president of Integrated Village Development Project (IVDP), welcomed the news of the award “with astonishment”, stressing that “this award goes not to me as an individual, but to my work and people who have made the IVDP a model of development “. The activist has won the award in the “community leadership” category. The ceremony will take place on August 31 in the Philippines.
Francis, 66, comes from a family of humble origins. He founded the IVDP in 1979, after graduating from Annamalai University (Tamil Nadu). In a short time the business has grown, becoming known around the state. The IVDP forms support groups for women who are very poor or destitute, helping them to create micro-businesses, bank deposits, and to know their rights so they can maintain their families, even by themselves.
“Poverty – the activist explains to AsiaNews - is a crime that dehumanizes and empties the essence of each person. Having an even more devastating effect on women, since 1989 we have decided to devote ourselves exclusively to them. Enhancing a women is the key to stability, confidence, dignity and development, not only of family but the entire society and nation. Change is possible if you help women to understand their strengths and their value , and that is how the IVDP has enabled thousands of women in Tamil Nadu to break the chain of poverty, of which they were victims “. Currently, the project supports more than 8 thousand groups in the districts of Krishnagiri, Vellore and Dharmpuri (Tamil Nadu).
According to Francis, “economic equality leads to social equality,” and may be the only way “to change the patriarchal mentality of this country”, which sees women subordinate to men. “Thanks to our initiatives – he continues – women learn to become independent from a financial point of view, and thus enjoy a status equal to that of men. In this perspective, it can also help to eliminate the terrible practice of feticide and female infanticide. ”
For the future, the activist is convinced that “every social class should support the education of girls, so that the community can be transformed. Eradicating poverty is a social responsibility and not of the government alone. Ordinary people must work together to make this change effective. ” (AsiaNews)
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