Close this search box.

The role of men in women’s empowerment in rural India

Men talking together
Christopher Coley says taking part in this service project and the subsequent research in rural India has been a life-changing experience for him.

Key Points

  • A study by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham highlights the significant but often overlooked influence of men in rural India on women’s empowerment, either as supporters or obstacles.
  • The research emphasizes the importance of engaging with men as a key element in future projects aimed at women’s empowerment, recognizing that social and cultural support from men plays a crucial role.
  •  The study led to the development of a more accurate empowerment model that considers social pressures within families and male support as central factors, suggesting a shift from purely economic or political perspectives.

In rural India, men play an especially important and often overlooked role in the process of women’s empowerment—either as supporters or obstacles—an imp­act study from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has found. Amrita University’s research team concludes that engaging with men, which has never been done on a large scale, needs to be considered as a key programming element in future projects.

Srividya Sheshadri and Christopher Coley are Amrita PhD students with the Center for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (CWEGE) at Amrita University. Along with professors Dr Sriram Devanathan and Dr Bhavani Rao, they published an article called “Contextualizing women’s empowerment frameworks with an emphasis on social support: a study in rural South India” in the journal Community, Work & Family.

The data clearly showed that more than economic or political resources, improving the social and cultural support for women is the most important aspect of their empowerment. Global experts are also starting to realize this. To account for it, the researchers developed a more accurate empowerment model to account for the role of social pressures within family and male support.

Srividya hugging village women
Srividya Sheshadri says research in rural India must be driven by identifying and addressing society’s needs from the perspective of the community.

“The learnings and outcomes of this project are a testament to what can take place when research is driven by an underlying motivation to identify and address society’s needs from the perspective of the community,” explains Sheshadri.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be associated with Amrita University, an institution that champions compassion-driven research as a core value, ensuring that we hold ourselves accountable to the communities and social phenomena that we set out to study.”

Following the successful completion in 2014 of a women’s empowerment project funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), researchers from AMMACHI Labs and­­­ CWEGE conducted an extended impact assessment. One of the outcomes of this was the need to redefine the way women’s empowerment is understood, especially for the Indian context.

Drawing of numerous factors looked at in the study
The complex network of psychological, sociological and economic factors in the study.

“Taking part in this service project and the subsequent research has been a life-changing experience for me. One of the unique aspects of research at Amrita University is that it always must have some benefit for society, and I think this work is in line with that mission,” shares Coley.

“We now better understand the social conditions and can develop more effective programs in the future. I am proud to be a part of such efforts.”

Dr Bhavani Rao is the UNESCO Chair in Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality at Amrita University. Dr. Sriram Devanathan is a professor and Principal at the Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru Campus.

Latest news

Watch Amma’s daily livestream

Amma offers us the possibility to connect online with her on a daily basis. During these livestreams, we can meditate with Amma, chant bhajans (devotional singing) and hear spiritual teachings.

Registration is required to access these livestreams:

Add Your Heading Text Here