A quest for justice, dignity, and hope


Utthan is a grassroots institution founded in 1981 and modelled around fostering women’s agency and empowerment at the grassroots.

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Utthan, the quest for justice, dignity & hope: 3.42 mins

Utthan Brochure

Utthan's journey began in 1981, when four women chose to work in the desolate Bhal region of Gujarat, helping marginalized communities to self-organise around critical livelihood issues. It is a grassroots-based institution with a mission to empower women and young girls by providing them with the perspective, resources and tools they need to amplify their voice, gain access & control over productive resources, entitlements & services, and take control of their bodily autonomy. To create systemic change and drive sustainable impact, Utthan also facilitates partnerships and synergies with various stakeholders and engages in evidence-based advocacy and policy dialogue while continuously taking up its own organisational development.

The Challenge being addressed: Women and young girls face significantly disproportionate challenges due to social, economic, political & environmental marginalization. This creates overlapping & interdependent systems of oppression, discrimination & disadvantage. The adverse impacts of poverty, hunger, resourceless-ness, violence & climate change on women and girls are most acute. As a result, their voices are more than often ignored & silenced and their needs neglected. This adversely impacts their ability to take decisions at individual, household, community or societal level. This inequity is perpetuated in society & associated structures, as a whole. Any development or growth therefore remains inequitable, incomplete & unsustainable.

Path to address the impacts on women and young girls: Utthan works on building their agency at individual, household, community & societal level through enabling control over assets, body & voice. This in turn enables them to shape their own destinies and provides them the confidence to partake in the creation of a more just & equitable society.

Prioritising community-based & community-led transformation has been pivotal in building a critical mass of local leaders; amongst women, men & youth. Utthan's practice areas are very much aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals & are demonstrative of grounded & women-led action to address women's human rights which are deeply intertwined with security, climate change, biodiversity, water security, resource distribution & governance issues. Presently, Utthan directly impacts the lives of over 8.5 lakh individuals in six districts of the western state of Gujarat in India. It aspires to scale this positive influence to at least 25 lakh individuals by 2027.

Awards & Recognitions

  • International Water Association (IWA) Women in Water Award, 2020: Awarded to Nafisa Barot Founder Trustee & Mentor
  • Community appreciation of Covid relief work, 15th August 2021: Awarded to Utthan by Kuda Gram Panchayat, Ghogha block, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat.
  • Woman of Substance, 8th March 2021: Recognition of Pallavi Sobti Rajpal, Deputy CEO by Kavita Mehta Foundation, Ahmedabad
  • Best Performing WDF Project, Outstanding work on Watershed Development, NABARD: 2018-19
  • Best State Nodal Agency & Best Performance Award, Vikaspedia,  Center for Development in Advanced computing: 2014-15 & 2015-16
  • National Environment Awareness Award, Bharatiya Khadi Gram Udhyog, India: 2008
  • N Khoshoo Memorial Award, Working with communities to achieve self-reliance: 2005