• Working for Gender Equality
  • Status of Women in India
  • How We Can Help
  • Stories
  • General Stats
If a person has a dream in this life they should have the freedom to pursue it. Yet many women around the world suffer from great atrocities and repression which prevent them from ever fulfilling even their most basic needs, let alone their dreams and aspirations. But through your donations, sponsorship, or volunteer work women in India can find the courage and support they need to rebuild their lives and fulfill their basic need to allow them to pursue their dreams. At CFI we are taking action to support women in India and guide them towards opportunities for a brand new day to create their own future.

Some have asked what women's rights have to do with education. The simple answer: everything. The long answer: if there is not support in the home, children will not be able to explore the full depth of their potential for learning, growth and development. There are many families throughout India where single mothers are forced to raise children on their own, left by society and neglected by the government. Left to fight on their own, single mothers from widowers or divorce must support themselves while also caring for the needs of their children. If these women continue to be neglected, than two generations will suffer, both that of the mother and the that of the children.

By working to develop women's rights, CFI and WISDOM are also redirecting positive and encouraging energy towards the education of women. Everyone deserves the right to education. Gender biases are not only discriminative, but they also limit the growth potential and development of a society. By encouraging women's rights CFI is working to reform and eliminate the gender-biased educational systems that have been sustained in developing countries.

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status of women jpgIf we look closely at any nation around the world, the status of women is a strong indication of the health and well-being of the society and its people. Were women suffer, the community as a whole suffers; there are more cases of crime, poverty, and social repression against all castes and creeds. When women have opportunity to succeed, then the success of the nation increases dramatically; children are educated, the homeless are taken off the streets, and nationality is honored.

Aside from the obvious advantages of equality between men and women, developing public and social rights for women directly affects global health, education, and prosperity, creating balance within the whole human population. The facts are their and the statistics prove this to be true! So we must strive to give women the right to pursue their dreams and represent their nation with pride. Women should never feel limited by social restraints, especially if they wish to pursue education or health for themselves and their families.

Research has proven that educating women is an affective way to reshape and recondition the social and political state of a country. Educating women directly affects the society as a whole, and as women are educated cases of abuse, forced labor, and even sex trading are reduced on a large scale. So it is no wonder that we at CFI are devoted to educating women in India and providing them with the resources they need to create their successful lives.

India is well known for it social caste system, and some of the people who suffer most from unfair biases are women. Although women in India carry great responsibilities in their lives, supporting their extended families, working labor intensive jobs, and raising their children, very few women in lower class communities are actually acknowledge for their tireless work and love. There are many cases throughout India where women are sold as slaves for business men or sex, and much of this activity is justified through the caste system and sex based discrimination against poor women.

Unfortunately in India and throughout other third world countries, women are considered the weaker sex. In many households women are considered incapable of managing the important decisions with the family, including money. This is why so many women in India are neglected and stripped of social and familial rights including the right to education, the right to family inheritance, and the right to choose their destiny. This has left many women homeless, jobless, and helpless to act and take control of their very own lives.

At CFI we are taking a number of steps to change this outrage against women and with the support from people like you we are going to help change the future for the global community of women.

For additional information about women in India click on the statistics tab at the top right of this folder.



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We believe that women have the power and strength within themselves to accomplish anything in this world, but sometimes they need the support of their friends and families to get started. Some of the greatest leaders in India have been women who directed their country to new frontiers as we move ahead into a global society. Yet there are many women who do not have the opportunity to take hold of their own lives and create change due to social, physical, and political restraints. At CFI we are committed to breaking down the walls of repression and opening the doors to opportunity for lower class women in India.

Although our goals and plans for the future cover a wide variety of possibilities to really spark change in the lower class communities of women, our first and most important step is to provide women with a space to discuss their issues and concerns regarding their society and community. In doing so, women will be able to engage themselves as a group and support each other as they test new boundaries and explore new opportunities.

One of the places we believe lower class women are ready to explore is education and vocational training. Research has proven that as women in lower class communities are educated a significant drop in the amount of violence and intolerance against women is seen. This is because education leads to an expansion of political and social rights which allow people to speak out against atrocities and create change in their political and social system.

By encouraging women to rally together for the future, we at CFI believe that the women in India can really take hold of the future for themselves and decide what is need for their communities. We are only here to create the physical and social space necessary for women to pursue their dreams.

jaya jpgJaya is a widow supported by our Foundation. In India, there are tens of thousands of women just like Jaya who suffer from the same degrading fate. Jaya’s husband died in 1997 leaving her and her two children with nothing more than an old iron stove and ragged pieces of clothing. Her husband Raghunath died after having an accident at his heavy machinery job inside the Madurai district where he was earning less than 70 dollars per month, all of which he used to support his family.  Now Jaya and her two children fight daily with hunger and the threat of disease from unclean water and improper trash disposal.  Aside from this, Jaya has nothing more than an old rotting piece of metal over her shack inside the slum community along the banks of the Vaigai river. With a room no larger than 12 feet wide and 13 feet deep, Jaya and her family sleep, eat, and live their daily lives. The floor of the house is simply the mud of the earth, and when the monsoon floods hit the Vaigai river in the fall, Jaya’s house is either destroyed or covered in waste which is littered throughout the slum.

Jaya does not work much, and when there is work for her it is temporary and very strenuous. For as little as 4 rupees, or 10 us cents, an hour Jaya works for construction companies helping to build houses in and around Madurai. Jaya’s work is highly arduous labor because she is forced to carry bricks above her head, She will pile up to 10 bricks each trip and work for up to 10 hours a day. Such labor causes Jaya severe pain, so much so that by the end of the day she can barely even cook for her family.
Although this story of Jaya is heartbreaking, there are endless numbers of women like her who are struggling through life with absolutely no support or opportunities to give themselves and their children a better future.

The Cohen Foundation is working with Jaya and other women like her to provide additional support to get out of the shackles of poverty and into a more sustainable life. Our foundation has provided clothing to Jaya’s family which will help her save more money for their future. We have also provided free education to her and her two children. So far Jaya has learned some basic techniques for creating a healthier environment for her family, like taking out rotting garbage which is lying around, cleaning out any mold that has accumulated in the house, and keeping cooked foods in a container which will prevent it from spoiling. We have also shared with her and other women the importance of clean drinking water in preventing the spread of disease.

The following are major areas where women in India are subjugated, marginalizes, and discriminated against based upon gender:

  1. Lack of Choice: Many women are forced into a life chosen by their parents that is often the life of a future housewife.
  2. Unequal job opportunity and salary: work available to female employees is significantly less than that available to men. Women also get paid a fraction of what men get for the same amount of work (applies particularly to lower class, labor intensive jobs). On average, lower class women work longer hours, and their main sector for employment is unskilled agricultural jobs like tending to the crops and livestock.
  3. Poor education: many women do not receive proper education primarily due to social practices and stigmas related to educating women. On average, young girls that do get an education are taken out of school at a young age to begin work inside their homes. Women that are able to complete a full education through undergraduate training may find it difficult to find opportunities available to women.
  4. Chastisement if Widowed: Women in many circumstances are abandoned after the death of their husbands, especially if they are younger women, and rejected by both their communities and their families and can be left to fight for themselves and their children without any support.
  5. Female Infanticide: Killing female babies or fetuses because of low social status accorded to women and the desire to have a male baby. This is a growing issue in India and continues to occur throughout the country.
  6. Malnutrition: Indian tradition upholds a rule where women eat last during meals. For lower caste families where their is a lack of food, many women do not get sufficient amounts of food which leads to malnutrition.


Literacy Rate in Madurai, major city in Southern India

This is a very basic look at the literacy rate in Madurai. There is a relatively high percentage of literate persons in comparison to the rest of India, although it can be seen that there is quite a great disparity between the number of literate men (991,010) to the number of literate women (785,644) with a difference of more than 205,000. Although this wide gap in the literacy rate of men compared to women can be the result of several underlying factors, it can be hypothesized that the primary contribution to this inequality is the social boundaries associated with educating women.


Literacy Rate (Madurai)

77 %

           Male Literacy

86 %

           Female Literacy

69 %



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Children's Day Alternative Education Conference


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Urgent Needs

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Through collaboration and partnership we can generate a ripple effect that stimulates new growth and development for a variety of causes and communities. CFI and WISDOM are working with other organization from around the world to conduct research, training, and development projects for students, teachers, administrators, parents. and academic institutes. Join us today and change the lives and education of tomorrow.

Recent collaboration efforts:

  • Grace Physiotherapy and CFI conducted free therapy camps for children with special needs.
  • Training in English language (spell, write, read) for children living within slum communities in cooperation with the Boy's Reformation Club.
  • CFI an Manju Foundation are working to provide educational materials to teachers in Kodaikanal.

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For as little as $10 a month a student can be fed for an entire month. Helping is much easier than you might have imagined. Make a difference in a child's life today by donating now.

Cohen Foundation and Children's WISDOM projects are maintained by the generous contributions of individuals and organizations who have shared their time and energy to help sustain our efforts for a brighter future. Join us today and create a spark of opportunity for children and the future of education.










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