From discrimination to dignity

The caste system is an ancient form of discrimination that denies people their basic rights and keeps millions trapped in poverty solely on the basis of birth. Those most affected are known as Dalits, literally meaning “broken people”.

Brick Kiln labour

Dalits are routinely denied access to education and considered “impure”, and therefore “untouchable”, seen as fit only for the most degrading and humiliating work, such as cleaning out public toilet pits or working in toxic brick-making factories. Many more are rejected care at hospitals, refused protection by police, all while regular atrocities committed against them are ignored. Despite the illegality of this so-called “untouchability”, over 200 million people in India alone still suffer the social exclusion and stigma of being born as a Dalit.

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 epidemic of social exclusion based on caste only widens the ever-growing poverty gap and hinders the social and economic progress of millions in South Asia.


We are supporting 46 projects across South Asia


Last year we gave £1,769,070 in grants to partners fighting to end discrimination.


Last year 350,000 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