Empowering Women: Access and ownership over land and land based activities through education, legal literacy and advocacy in rural India
BackgroundIGSSS is directly implementing the project titled 'Empowering Women: Access and ownership over land and land based activities through education, legal literacy and advocacy in rural India' which is being funded by EU-WHH at Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to empowerment of vulnerable women in rural India and to complement to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 3 – Promote Gender Equality and empower women.
The geographical context presents a dismal picture with regard to development indicators. Jhabua has a very low literacy rate of 36%, wherein the female literacy is measured at 4%. Food insecurity is a major concern due to scanty rainfall and the semi-aridity of the region. Water is a source of great stress, especially for the women who often have to travel nearly 3 to 4 kms daily to source water for their family.
Patterns of distress migration have also been noted, as a consequence. Women and younger girls travel to neighbouring states for agricultural and construction labour – often leaving behind younger children and older relatives to manage the household and landings.
The community also has a history of taking loans – often at exorbitant rates from money lenders in the villages who connive to keep them enshackled in debt and poverty.
AchievementIdentification of 600 tribal women from the 10 villages by the field team for adult literacy classes.
Around 200 women have learnt to sign their names, write names of their husbands, the villages they came from. They have also learnt to write numerical between 1 and 50 and recognize Hindi alphabets. In some fields, they have been taught the names of the days of the week and months in a year, with the seasons. In one village (Barod), the women had learnt how to recognize the measurements in a digital weighing machine.
Identification of the WRCs (Women Resource Centres) in the operational areas.
WRCs are being conceived of as resource centres and safe stable spaces for the congregation and collectivisation of women in neighbouring villages.
Also on the anvil, are plans of developing the WRCs as information dissemination points within the villages – this would mean that the WRC would have to house all the relevant information on government schemes available for the tribal-dominated villages as well as host training and capacity building initiatives on a regular basis (on issues of relevance to the community at large).
Celebrations, involving the women in particular and the community in general, would also have to be organised around the WRC – on occasions like Women's' Day, Literacy Day, local earth festivals etc.
Stories of ChangeBeyond the Veil
Lila Seniya Hiyor never went outside her village and usually stayed back in the house. Now being the secretary of her SHG (Self Help Group) she goes regularly to the bank in the town and to the bazaar. She has learnt how to speak in front of others, especially men, and is now confident about speaking at meetings despite the conventions of the village. She no longer obeys ghoonghat (veil).
Lila now takes care of all the household matters while her husband is concentrating more on the work. She plans to continue with her literacy class as she is eager to learn more and save more money in order to use it for enhancement of livelihood.
She also wants to voice the concerns & problems to the panchayat faced by women in the village. This is presently forbidden by the men and she is hoping that will change if the SHG members participate collectively in the process.