Unnati Sansthan was founded in September 2000, by a collective of social workers from Rajasthan. Since 2007, it has been led by Ms Marjorie Aziz and Mr Prem Kumar Luthra, who between them have over 40 years experience working in development. From its inception, Unnati has worked to create a society that is free from the exploitation of women and children.
When Unnati was founded, the initial focus was on working with tribal communities on issues of education, health and agriculture in Gogunda Block, Udaipur District. Work was conducted to build rapport with the communities, whilst also addressing immediate needs that were identified as significant concerns to the community. However, over time this evolved into a stronger focus on women and children. Between 2004 and 2008, Unnati worked on issues such as health and HIV/AIDS, strengthening community participation in development issues, ensuring schooling to non-school going children, and child and youth development. By the end of 2008, child-related concerns had gradually become the organisation’s main focus, and by 2010, Unnati’s work centred on the holistic development of children and the creation of a society where every stakeholder plays an important role in strengthening child welfare.
Unnati’s work has resulted in a greater awareness of parents on the importance of education and the issues surrounding child labour, and has led to them being empowered to take a role in improving the welfare of children in their communities. It has resulted in the formation of local stakeholder groups to combat child labour and poor education, and has led to over 10,000 children being enrolled into school and almost 5,000 being rescued from child labour. Through this work, Unnati has developed a strong and unique understanding of children’s issues in Udaipur District.