Women’s Empowerment

The Empower Project is especially interested in empowering women and promoting gender equality including through highlighting the challenges to women’s economic independence and strategies to overcome them. To this end, we have an explicit aim to include women in our research in order to understand their particular experiences, highlight their activities as entrepreneurs in our case study settlements, and disseminate best practice as a way of inspiring girls and women to aim high. Take a look at the range of films that have been produced as part of the Empower project over the years.

2023 Professor Karen Ross and Priyanshi Sharma’s visit to Delhi

In April 2023 Professor Karen Ross and Priyanshi Sharma carried out interviews, focus groups and observations in Trilokpuri, Ajit Vihar and Indra Kalyan Vihar. Some amazing insights into women’s entrepreneurial spirit and bottom up approaches to safety! Do watch Karen and Priyanshi’s video around some of their reflections.

2022 Film

2021 Film

Women Entrepreneurs in India: In 2021, we initiated a new project around women entrepreneurs in India who had developed businesses and which had been established for several years. It was themed around the International Women’s Day 2021 theme of #choosetochallenge. We interviewed 10 women about their experiences of setting up their businesses and the challenges they faced because of their sex and how they overcame them. Their experiences are both different and the same and they have some useful advice for girls and young women who are hoping to also become economically independent. 

Acknowledgements: interviewees: Anika Parashar, Amrai Dua, Ashi Dua, Chavi Agarwal, Komal Baldwa, Monica Shah, Pooja Rai, Preeta Ghosal, Shabia Walia, and Urvashi Butalia. Funded by the Global Challenges Academy, Newcastle University.

2019 Films

The aims of the Empower Project are closely related to other work undertaken by Newcastle University colleagues under the auspices of the Women in Development Network (WiDeN), a Network supported by Newcastle University’s Global Challenges Academy, and we are pleased to showcase three short films on different aspects of women, empowerment and control which were made with women in Delhi, directed and produced by Professor Karen Ross and Priyanshi Sharma.

Self-Employed Chauffeurs & Drivers

The Azad Foundation has trained 2000+ women to become (mostly) self-employed chauffeurs and drivers. As well as developing driving skills over a number of weeks, they also learn about gender, power, and resilience. In 2019, we visited the Azad Foundation and talked to a group of women trainees about their lives, their experiences, and their hopes for the future. 

Acknowledgements: Azad Foundation, especially Shrinivas Rao (Chief Operating Officer), Khushi (Driving Instructor) and Aisha, Gayatri, Maya, Mamta, Rinku, Sangeeta, and Shweta.


Savda-Ghevra is a resettlement colony in Delhi. With financial support from the Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE), a number of individuals and groups have set up micro-enterprises, providing goods and services to both other settlement residents but also selling goods in local markets. In 2019, we visited some of these women entrepreneurs to hear how their set up and now run their businesses. 

Acknowledgements: CURE India, especially Dr Renu Khosla (Director), Anand Singh (Programme Manager), and Rinku (project workers).  

Building Toilets

Safeda Basti is an inner-city slum in Delhi. With financial support from the Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) as well as their own resources, residents in several streets got together to build toilets in their homes. In 2019, we met with some of the women involved who told us the story of their involvement in the project. 

Acknowledgements: CURE India, especially Dr Renu Khosla (Director), Anand Singh (Programme Manager), Trishubh and other Safeda project workers.