Photo: National Association of Street Vendors of India


Priority Issues

  • Labor Rights
  • LGBTI Rights
  • Women's Rights

Began Program: 2004

India is a massive democracy composed of 1.65 billion people, 28 states, and 15 official languages. Yet despite some relatively strong legal protections, justice, equality, and dignity elude millions of people. The struggle for rights and survival takes place in a context where more than a third of the country lives under the poverty line and the poorest and most marginalized strive to live free from abuse and exploitation.

The hope for India lies in its extremely vibrant civil society, in which human rights organizations are doing groundbreaking work and impacting the lives of millions.

“The Fund understands that development is a process, and that social change in traditional societies takes time. The Fund’s ongoing support has allowed us to put the priorities of low-income, single women onto India’s national agenda.”
Dr. Ginny Shrivastava, Astha Sansthan, India

Our Strategy

India has a long history of discrimination against Dalits (so-called “untouchables”), indigenous tribal communities, women, and LGBTI people. Routine oppression makes these populations more likely to be among India’s poorest and, thus, more vulnerable to abuse, violence, and exploitation. The Fund’s strategy in India is to help enhance the capacity of these communities to demand and defend their rights.

Over the years and with our support, Fund grantees have won greater legal protections for domestic workers, waste pickers, tribal communities, the rural poor, and LGBTI people. We are now partnering with membership groups to ensure those laws translate into real rights on the ground.

Spotlight on: ASWA

One group the Fund is proud to support in India is the Association of Single Women Alone (ASWA). Launched by 450 women in 1999 and rooted in the simple idea that single—also known as “alone”—women are just as equal as anyone else, ASWA helps low-income single women defend their basic human rights. Almost 20 years since its founding, it now has over 100,000 members and spans eight Indian states. Read more about their inspiring work here.