As I reported last week, thanks to our briefly being the highest ranked project, and some very generous donations, we recently fully funded the project for the current year (2012/13). Here is a short report from the project on the activities of the previous year.
The project successfully recruited a full team of social workers and community leaders through which it delivered its twelve month life skills, health and nutrition course.
Through the life skills course:
Without these courses, these girls are unlikely to have ever been able to learn about topics such as these; as such information is not available to them in the community.
This year, an internal evaluation of the project was conducted. The outcome of the evaluation was very encouraging, and on the basis of it, the project has been extended to begin working with some new communities in the Vishrantwadi slum areas. It continues to operate in the older areas three days a week.
Dr Mune and the team are very well acquainted with these communities so they have also been able to respond appropriately to demands as they have emerged. In this regard, this year the project team undertook many ‘unscheduled’ activities. These included: the formation and support of 11 women’s self-help groups; facilitating and supporting the formation of ‘girl parliament’ groups for each community; conducting sex-education and other life skills classes in schools; running some classes for boys in these schools; and collaborating with other NGOs in order to bring awareness to issues of HIV/AIDS.
Perhaps the least quantifiable achievement has been the delight that the girls have experienced in being able to meet with other girls: to talk to them about their lives, to make friends, and to know that they are not alone in their situation.
I shall continue, as always, to keep you posted with stories from the ground.
Thank you to all of you supporters who have made, and continue to make, this work possible.
I am writing to share some most exciting news. Over the weekend we recieved record donations, and shortly enjoyed the status of 'most popular' project on Globalgiving! Thank you to each and every one of you for making this happen. Everyone here has been touched by this news.
The project activities for the year have now been fully funded, and the budget has now been updated to reflect the full budget for the following year of activities. I will soon update you all with a report on the last year, as well as more case studies.
Thanks again to all of you for your ongoing support.
With gratitude, and very best wishes,
Name : Vaishali Rachappa Koli.
Age : 19 years
Education : 12th STD
I am from a family of 5. My father is daily wage labourer and my mother is a house wife. I am very happy to share my joy with you. I passed my 12th exam with good marks. But after finishing my exams, I was not able to decide where to engage myself in this vacation, and so I was at home. Members from the project team came to my house once and gave information about the ' smile' twin e-learning course at their organization, and I enrolled for it.
The teachers impressed me with how kind they were. They also helped us to enroll in different activities in this course. The visits to the mall and lectures about retail management built our confidence to apply for jobs.
This course has made me feel independent. My family members and neighbours all believe this course has had a positive effect.
I am very grateful to the project staff.
Name of Beneficiary: Shweta Navnaath Salve
Age: 17 years
Education: 11th STD
I, Shweta Navnath Salve, have sat the S.S.C. examination [an examination for government jobs]. Such a thing marks a great turnaround in my life, which has only been possible due to the work of the project.
After joining the classes there has been a radical change in my mind, in my personality, in my nature and my ability to think about things.
I have been living in Shantinagar since my childhood. It is clearly a 'slum', and in my experience, the surroundings and atmosphere around us clearly influence the way we think.
After I completed my 10th standard examination, I had to do something with myself in the holidays. I therefore joined the classes to learn spoken English, and basic computer skills.
Before, I used to think that teachers were only good for teaching their subject. But here I see that they serve as good examples, and that I can change myself for the better, as well as learn whatever I am being taught. I have learned so much here. So much of what I've learned is important for my personal development. My secondary school education is over now, and I will go to college and probably try and find some work as well. But before I did not know anything about how adanced the world is before, when all I know was the four walls of my house and my school. But I learnt about myself in these life skills classes. The teacher and other girls have impressed my with their softness, their kindness. Not only this, but they have provided a useful practical service. Now I can look critically at this society and my position. I hope to live in a wiser way than this, and to have a job also.
I thought that this week, as well as posting a story from the project, I could also bring attention to this article which was doing the rounds in the office last week. It makes for quite interesting reading, and highlights why the work of Dr Mune and her team is so crucial in India.
"...a survey that caused indignation in India last month: a poll of 370 gender specialists around the world that voted India the worst place to be a woman out of all the G20 countries. It stung – especially as Saudi Arabia was at the second-worst. But the experts were resolute in their choice. "In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour," said Gulshun Rehman, health programme development adviser at Save the Children UK, who was one of those polled.
Look at some statistics and suddenly the survey isn't so surprising. Sure, India might not be the worst place to be a woman on the planet – its rape record isn't nearly as bad as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, where more than 400,000 women are raped each year, and female genital mutilation is not widespread, as it is in Somalia. But 45% of Indian girls are married before the age of 18, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (2010); 56,000 maternal deaths were recorded in 2010 (UN Population Fund) and research from Unicef in 2012 found that 52% of adolescent girls (and 57% of adolescent boys) think it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife. Plus crimes against women are on the increase: according to the National Crime Records Bureau in India, there was a 7.1% hike in recorded crimes against women between 2010 and 2011 (when there were 228,650 in total). The biggest leap was in cases under the "dowry prohibition act" (up 27.7%), of kidnapping and abduction (up 19.4% year on year) and rape (up 9.2%).
A preference for sons and fear of having to pay a dowry has resulted in12 million girls being aborted over the past three decades, according to a 2011 study by the Lancet.
A glance at the Indian media reveals the range of abuse suffered by the nation's women on a daily basis. Today it was reported that a woman had been stripped and had her head shaved by villagers near Udaipur as punishment for an extramarital affair. Villagers stoned the police when they came to the rescue. In Uttar Pradesh, a woman alleged she was gang raped at a police station – she claimed she was set on by officers after being lured to the Kushinagar station with the promise of a job.
Last Wednesday, a man in Indore was arrested for keeping his wife's genitals locked. Sohanlal Chouhan, 38, "drilled holes" on her body and, before he went to work each day, would insert a small lock, tucking the keys under his socks. Earlier this month, children were discovered near Bhopal playing with a female foetus they had mistaken for a doll in a bin. In the southern state of Karnataka, a dentist was arrested after his wife accused him of forcing her to drink his urine because she refused to meet dowry demands.
In June, a father beheaded his 20-year-old daughter with a sword in a village in Rajasthan, western India, parading her bleeding head around as a warning to other young women who might fall in love with a lower-caste boy."
Read the full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/23/why-india-bad-for-women
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