Giving Compass' Take:

• India Development Review interviews Community of Resource Organizations (CORO) head Sujata Khandekar about how she has helped lead progress in her home country through grassroots leadership and systems change.

• What can U.S.-based orgs learn from CORO, which is working to empower disadvantaged communities and foster more equity? One takeaway is that true progress must focus on people first.

• Here's how to close the global health gender leadership gap.

Over the past three decades, Sujata Khandekar has led one of the country’s foremost organizations in grassroots leadership and activism: Community of Resource Organizations, or CORO. Under her leadership, CORO has grown from working on adult literacy in Mumbai’s slums, to a resource organization on gender and grassroots leadership development. It now focuses on integrated community development, in particular, addressing issues identified by the community itself. Today, CORO runs a program on domestic violence specifically focused on changing social norms that perpetuate and justify violence against women. It also works on child rights within school and community settings, and has developed a model program on grassroots leadership development.

IDR: Tell us about the early years at CORO.

SUJATA KHANDEKAR: Literacy-related work was a big teacher, personally and organizationally. Coming from a middle class, Brahmin background, I had a stereotypical understanding of low income communities, crudely labelling them as "slums." One either hates people living in these communities or pities their conditions, but there’s never a sense of equality or connectedness with them.

In my mind, I had gone to the community to help them, to teach them. The "I" was prominent. But through CORO, I learnt about human life, human nature, social structures, and social change. My work has since impacted the way I perceive, feel, think, express, connect, and analyze; and I had to work a lot on myself over the years.

Organizationally, the work taught us about why and when interventions become relevant to people’s lives and priorities, why and how people "own" processes of development, and what it means to be participatory.

Read the full article about CORO by Rachita Vora at India Development Review.