This initiative led by college students is tackling food wastage through women empowerment
Despite years of progress, the primal roots of the age-old social evil known as patriarchy is still imbued in the minds of India’s citizens.
Women have been victims of familial confinement, yearning to free themselves from the clutches of cultural marginalization. With the context of extreme poverty, these women are captured in flux between their desires to be independent while also tending to their traditional roles in the family.
Another obstacle that has posed a constant threat to our country is the issue of starvation.
It has been reported that over Rs 50,000 crore worth of food and Rs 21 Cr of wheat goes to waste every year. Food wastage has been an alarming issue in India. It is said that India wastes as much food as the entire United Kingdom consumes.
Adding on to the pile of issues, there are concerns about unhealthy eating habits. The magnitude of which has led to many cases of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity followed by a legion of other diseases.
Witnessing these grim realities, the student-led team of Enactus Aryabhatta from Aryabhatta College looked forward to these challenges as an opportunity that could bring a change. These young entrepreneurs strive towards the holistic development of the underprivileged communities.
Focusing on uplifting the lives of these deprived women constrained to their conjugal duties, Enactus Aryabhatta sought to break these oppressive and undermining gender constructs of the society by initiating a project named ‘Utkarsh’ which means ‘to rise’.
Project Utkarsh simultaneously tackles the issues of gender biases, food wastage, and unhealthy consumption patterns by empowering underprivileged women through a source of earning by attaching an entrepreneurial approach to their existing cooking skills.
Their women entrepreneurs utilise the waste pulp of vegetables like carrot and beetroot that contain high amounts of fibres, minerals, and antioxidant properties that are used to make healthy savouries called VEGGITOS. These savouries are manufactured with a well-defined hygiene module and eco-friendly packaging.
Each production unit under Project Utkarsh generates employment opportunities for more than 8 women. The team through its consistent efforts have consulted with various nutritionists to ensure the best quality delivered to the consumers. Thereby, preventing food wastage and generating a healthier snacking alternative to unhealthy fried chips that contain a high amount of trans-fat.
Within three years, this project expanded across northern India to Chandigarh, Faridabad, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh. Our project has potently employed more than 50 women, transforming them into successful entrepreneurs.
Now, being proactive members of their community, they take part in important decision-making affairs and reach out to form networks, wherein, both the societal interests and theirs can co-exist.
The increase in the income of the entrepreneurs’ families has allowed the children to gain access to better educational facilities. Some of them went to the extent of resuming their unfinished education.
“I have been able to save money to build my own house and provide for my family. I am looking forward to earning and supporting my husband in managing the house with the help of project Utkarsh,” said Chanda Srivastava, a social entrepreneur under Project Utkarsh, RK Puram.
Through Project Utkarsh, these women entrepreneurs have saved over 90,000 gallons of water and 1,200 kg of wasted food.
Edited by Kanishk Singh
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)