Overcoming discrimination in South East Asia

Caste-based discrimination excludes people on the basis of birth and directly affects over 200 million people in South Asia.  

Brick Kiln labour

Some of the people most impacted are known as Dalits, literally meaning “broken people.” Considered “impure”, and therefore “untouchable”, they are often restricted to unsafe and exploitative work, such as cleaning out public toilet pits or working in toxic brick-making factories.

Despite the illegality of this so-called “untouchability”, those who are discriminated against on the basis of caste are routinely denied access to education, food and basic rights. 

Dalit children and women are particularly at risk. More than half of Dalit children drop out before finishing primary school, while women suffer the double discrimination of gender and caste, with most being taken out of school early to be sold into marriage and household service at the cost of their own independence.

This system of graded inequality has existed for centuries, widening the ever-growing poverty gap and social and economic progress of millions in South Asia.  


We are supporting 35 projects across South Asia

£ 2,269,110

Last year we gave £2,269,110 in grants.


Last year 130,000 were supported by our projects

How we create change

How we create change


By giving people the tools, support and the skills to lead dignified lives, they become champions of their communities and support others.


Working with grassroots organisations based in South Asia from within the affected communities themselves, we can ensure self-reliance and sustainability.


We bring these organisations together, forming networks which can spread their benefit to more individuals, restarting the cycle of transformation.


Stories from the field


What I admire about Karuna’s work is their grassroots approach to improving the lives of the most marginalised people in India and Nepal. I find their commitment to the education of girls and women particularly inspiring as I believe it’s the greatest gift you can give to anyone

— Kate Atkinson/ Karuna Ambassador