Global Reach: India

Year Work
Total Funds
Invested To Date

EMpower in INDIA

India has its largest ever youth population and will continue to be a country with one of the largest youngest populations until 2030. Young people at the margins in India experience challenges including gender inequality, child marriage, financial hardship and lack of career training and mobilization. In particular, gendered perceptions impact the opportunities available to young girls in India and prevent opportunities to continue education, career advancement and explore non-traditional roles in society. India has the 2nd highest reported infections globally of Covid-19 and the pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. As with many countries, the pandemic has had widespread consequences in India including increased gender-based violence, interrupted education, and amplified health and living insecurities.

EMpower awarded its first grant to an organization in India in 2000 and since that time, has partnered with more than 40 organizations throughout the country. In addition to grant support focusing in the areas of inclusive learning, economic well-being, health and safety with an emphasis on gender transformative programs. A key theme across EMpower programs in India is to support and strengthen girls' voices through education, career training, and health education. Additionally, EMpower engages in capacity development and technical assistance with partners and developed Building Bridges, a Learning Exchanges series that promotes collaboration and cross-learning between grantee partners. In 2018, EMpower launched the Girls Advisory Council which puts girls  at  the  center  of  our  work  in India, comprising adolescent girl leaders who advise our grantmaking strategy.


Total Population: 1.38 billion

27.2% of the population is 10-24 (246.3 million young people). India is the 2nd most populous country in the world and has its largest ever adolescent population. India will continue to have one of the youngest populations in the world until 2030.following China.

More than 66% of India’s population lives in rural areas compared to 34% living in urban cities.

Economy & Environment

GDP per capita, whether growing/shrinking 2,055 USD and growing at a rate of 5%

GINI index and rank: 35.7, India has been one of the countries that has been becoming more and more unequal as its economy increases. According to 2014 data, nearly 20% of the population lives below the extreme poverty line and COVID-19 is amplifying economic hardship and inequality. More than 35 % of the urban population currently living in slums (2018).

Global Food insecurity index: Based on 34 unique indicators which consider affordability, availability and quality across 113 countries, India ranks 72 (with 1 being the most accessible and 113 the least) (2019).

According to 2017 data, about 40% of India’s population lacks access to basic sanitation services. There has been a steady incline of the proportion of people able to access basic drinking water and in 2019, 92.7% of the population used basic drinking water services.

Key issues that affect youth:

Gender inequality

India ranks 112th in the Global Gender Gap report (out of 153, where ranking closer to the bottom indicates more gender inequality in economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment).

Education (Quality education, SDG4)

There is relatively high enrollment of youth in primary school and an estimated 90.9% total young people transition from primary to secondary school. The completion of primary school among girls at 91.1% is slightly higher than boys at 90.6%. There is significant drop-out from secondary school enrollment and only 73% of boys and 74.5% of girls complete their secondary school education (2019).

Livelihoods (Decent work and economic growth, SDG 8)

Due to established gender roles, there are slightly more young men involved in the Indian workforce at 30.6% compared to 25.5% girls.

According to 2018 data, 48% of young girls and 14% of young boys were neither in education, employment or training.

According to UN Human Development Report (2019) the Income inequality has increased dramatically in India since 1990, more than most other parts of the world.

Health and well-being

India has a significant rate of child marriage, with 27% of girls getting married by 18. There is high prevalence or acceptance of gender-based violence at a rate of 34.5% among men and 40.8% among women (2016).

Young people in India have limited knowledge around sexual health and only 31% of boys and 22% of girls have any knowledge about HIV prevention (2016). More than 22% of young women aged 15-19 identify there being an unmet need for family planning services.

Other countries in Asia:

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