“2, 5, 7, 10, or 20 years” are the type of figures we hear from the women – the time of their widowhood, the times when they have been totally alone and desolate in the world, sometimes with very small children.The times when the other family members suddenly start seeing them as burden, the times when they also notice a glint in unknown men’s eyes. These are also the times when the sudden passing away of the earning member makes them realize that they do not possess any monetary skills to earn a decent livelihood on their own. These are the times when, in many cases, the children drop out of school to help bring in some money, by working in fields or doing some odd job. There might be few helping hands, but many derisive gestures.
Actually, the policy making bodies HAVE thought of this situation, and a government scheme is in existence to help such women. Even if small, the government gives help of Rs.600/month (approximately US $ 11) to a widow/deserted woman and if with children, an additional help of Rs.250 (US $ 5) /child / month to her. A death by accident also entitles her to an immediate compensation of Rs.10,000/- (about US $ 188).
Apart from a few, 90% of the women did not know that such a scheme exists. None of the village governing bodies makes an active effort to inform the women about their rights. When the committee formed by Chetana-Vikas went into the thick of the problem, they also found that the women were unaware and ill equipped to gather supportive documents required, which are at least 8 in number, like the photo ID card, proof of residence, proof of husband’s death, proof of low income, etc….. Getting each of this individual document from the government agencies is by itself an uphill task….. expensive too !Moreover, whenever some aware women have filed applications, they are harassed by village body officials by deliberate delaying tactics, asking for favors in lieu of sanctioning their names and in general, just-forgetting about the women. Widespread and unchecked corruption forces the women to stop trying to get even this meager amount, which is rightfully for them and their children.
A six member women committee trained by Chetana-Vikas, working in villages north of Wardha district – goes into all the above problems. They approached the women, help them with information, with methodology, sometimes accompany them to tackle corrupt officials, sometimes even search out the application forms buried in the files of officials.
There have been times when these committee women have directed the officials about the appropriate methodologies to be followed. They also try to ensure the receipt of the right amount and at the promised time. These committee women, through last year, have already filed 143 new cases and also revived a few old and stagnated cases from six villages. Some women have started getting their money after completing the due formalities.
This year we will also bring you stories of struggle of these brave committee-women who just want to help their sisters stand on their own feet and avail their rights for better livelihood.
We again appeal you to strengthen their hands and continue to spread the message among family members and friends. Ask them to visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/.
Also visit the Global Giving page to see in how many different ways you can help. Any upcoming event like a birthday, anniversaries, marriage functions can be made use of to start a new trend.
Let us make it an eventful and meaningful 2013 for the women we are working for.
Thank you !
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http://www.chetanavikas.org (presently under reconstruction, but accessible)