CENTRE FOR WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT AND RESEARCH
Education to Empower 500 Women and Adolescent Girls
Update – May 2010
This is an important period for us, we have extended our activities to 24 villages of Edaikazhinadu Panchayath, that is 18 new villages and 6 fishing villages where we have been implementing Tsunami rehabilitation activities. In the city area we have been continuing our activities in the same 6 fishing villages. In the fishing villages women know that we are continuing our work there beyond Tsunami rehabilitation work so there is good relationship with the women in these villages. This is just not an extension of working area the focus is also switched over from Tsunami rehabilitation to women’s development. It is during our Tsunami rehabilitation work we have realized the issues of single women and in our new working area the focus is more on the issues of single women. In all our activities like trainings and income generation activities single women are given preference. We are also continuing our life skill and sexuality education among adolescent girls.
Education and Income Generation programme for Women: Our initial task was to explain our work to the women and villagers of new villages because they were expecting us to implement activities like Tsunami rehabilitation work. Initially our staff members organized village level meetings and also conducted village surveys using PRA-Participatory Rural Appraisal methods. But Edaikazhinadu Panchayath is an unique area because here the houses are scattered and not crowed or houses arranged in lanes. So gathering people is slightly difficult so our field workers walked long distances to meet people to explain our work and also to get information from them. We already had sent you the details of Edaikazhinadu area. One of the advantages in this area is because the houses are scattered each house has few trees like coconut, jack fruit, mango, neem etc.
We have organized weekend leadership training programmes for women We have organized 10 such trainings and each training is attended by 20-25 omen. The impact of these trainings are tangible now, in the fishing villages women are given importance in community matters, they started telling their opinions, they also go to government offices, bank and other places. Earlier women were not allowed to go for any meetings, women also tell that they have to look after husband and children, but now they are attending the meetings. So now the family members have to make small adjustments like may be they have serve their food, clean the vessels, bring children from schools, bring water. Even though these are small changes, women are getting their own time and space to discuss about their issues. They also make decisions about their children’s education and marriage. We have also organized men’s meeting in these villages and issues like violence against women, girls children’s education, marriage age and dowry systems were discussed. Still there is some resistance among men but still they understand that they are the problem and solution for women’s issues, most of them are now willing to educate their girl children. Changes in dowry system and marriage age will take time.
We have been continuing our income generation programme for women. During this period we have organized entrepreneurship skill training and also training in different income generation activities like food processing, palm leaf product making, nursery raising, handicrafts and jewellary making. Nearly 160 women participated in these trainings and out of which 140 are single women (widows and destitute women). All these women were also given loans through their SHG-Self help groups to initiate their own business or to strengthen their business activities.
A single women beneficiary selling fruits
Life skill and Sexuality Education for Adolescent girls: We have organized regular weekend workshops, these workshops are organized during Saturdays and Sundays. Nearly 300 girls and 50 boys participated in these programmes. After this programme the girls are motivated to initiate ‘Snehidhi’ an association for adolescent girls in their villages. Working with boys is a new experience for us, it is also encouraging. Actually we have planned some combined workshop for girls and boys but after organizing two workshops we realized we are not ready for it, the adolescents are also not ready for it. We also conducted sexuality education in 8 schools – 3 in Chennai and 5 Edaikazhinadu panchayat
Adolescent girls learning folk dance
We are providing computer skill training and dress making training in our Paniyur and Neelangarai centres. In addition to that trainings on handicrafts like basket making, jewels making were also organized. We found out that these kinds of short term trainings also helps the school going children, that gives a discipline of mind, helps to bring out their creative skills and that helps in their studies. Career guidance meetings are also organized where they learned the options available for them after 10th and 12th standard like the short term training courses like home nursing, beautician, computer hardware service, cell phone service, sales girls, IT enabled services, apprenticeships and open university courses. But most of these things are actually helpful for the city girls for the village girls they get the information but the real opportunities of training and employment is not available in their villages.
Exposure visit to a soap making unit
Most of the adolescents expressed a need of supplementary education particularly in Mathematics, science and English. We have books guides for students above 8th standard we also have DVDs in those subjects, that they can use it and learn it. In addition to that our coordinators also help individual basis to prepare and pass their high school examinations so that they will not drop out of schools and end of in marriage. Adolescent girls also went for exposure visits, the village girls visited Pondicherry and also Chennai to get some idea about different careers. Chennai city girls also visited Industrial estate and different polytechnics.
We take this opportunity to thank all our donors, volunteers and wellwishers, who supported in our attempt to educate and empower women and adolescent girls. We are looking for help in strengthening our income generation activities for women, we need volunteers, money and also suggestions to strengthen our income generation activities, we request your support in this regard, if you are interested in helping us please contact us.
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