Centre for Women’s Development and Research
Education to Empower 500 Women and Adolescent Girls
Update- November 2013
Last 3 months that is from September 2013 we have been involved in local fund raising activities. We have participated in Joy of Giving, Seva Mela and Giveindia programmes. Even though we could not raise much money we could able to meet thousands of people both personally and through emails and explained the problems of women and girl children and also shared our work with them. This is the first time we are involved in such activities and it is a rich experience for us. In addition to fund raising as part of joy of giving week we have also organized a story telling session for the slum children, we also kept a wish tree in a preschool requesting toys and learning materials for the slum children. That is also a good experience for us and the children. The preparation of promotional materials for the events helped us to understand the importance of our work and educating the general public about it. We have also used emails and facebook for the fundraising that is another experience for our staff team.
Our Stall in Seva Mela Fundraising exhibition
Life skill and sexuality education for adolescents: One thing we are happy about is all the girls we are working with are continuing their education; the dropout rate is actually nil. Earlier girls used to drop out once they reach puberty that is when are in 7th or 8th standard, now they continue their education at least up to 10th standard. After that if they fail usually they discontinue their education, if they pass most of them will continue upto 12th standard. After 12th standard most of the rural girls will not continue their education, one of the reasons is that there is no college nearby. Once they leave schools at 16 or 18 years of age, parents usually start thinking about their marriage and finish it soon. We want the girls to marry after 21 years, so one of the things we wish to do is help these girls to continue their education up to degree level, that is another 3 years after 12 standard. So we have initiated a new project ‘G2G-Girls to Graduates’ and in all our local fund raising activities we promoted this project. Now in our life skill and sexuality education activities we have also included supplementary education for high school girls, so they pass their high school and higher secondary examinations and continue their education upto 21 years of age. We are continuing our weekend life skill and sexuality education and 208 girls benefitted from it. In the urban centre we could able to get an volunteer to conduct spoken English classes and 23 girls are attending this evening course.
Sexuality Education Class in School conducted by our Staff
We have also organized two sexuality education workshops in 2 schools and nearly 200 girl students benefitted from these programmes. In addition to that we have also organised 2 gender sensitization workshops for boys one in the rural area and one in urban area, 78 boys participated in these workshops. The rural boys have suggested organise some sports events/tournaments for boys so that many boys will join the ‘Nanban’ adolescent boys association. So we are planning to organize some sports events during school holidays that are December or May months.
Education and income generation programme for women: During this period Dr.Josphine from Christian College Chennai conducted 2 workshops on Bio-farming and livelihood sources for women. 78 women have participated in these workshops. They have planned to initiate vermi-composte making as a commercial activity and sell vermin-compost to earn additional income. 10 women also attended worshops on backyard poultry, kitchen garden raising organized by the Tamilnadu Agricultural University extension centre. In addition to that our staff members are conducting regular meetings in the villages. They also monitor the kitchen gardens raised by women and provide seeds, seedlings and suggestions. Since women have already harvested vegetables 2-3 times they are happy and want further help. We are also motivating them to expand the area so that they can produce more and sell the vegetables. We are also motivating them to have backyard poultry, or rear goats or cows. But these activities need more investment they are requesting us for help to build chicken houses or to buy goats and cows. We are looking for ways of getting some loans for them.
Village level Women’s Meeting
We have also organised three meetings for women to discuss about the producers company idea, 125 women participated in that meeting. We are planning visit some successful producers company to understand it further. The hand made soap making unit is also continuing their activity. During fund raising activities we could able to sell lot of our handmade soaps. It was encouraging for us and the women who are involved in making it. Because of this idea of selling soaps in exhibitions and fund raising activities we have organized one more workshop on handmade soap making and 16 women participated in that.
In general it was an important period for us, we could able to learn a lot about local fund raising, we could also able to continue our work boys. Our staff members also attended training programmes organized by other organizations.
Update- August 2013
During this period that is from May 2013 to August 2013 the emphasis was on providing career guidance for ‘Snehdihi’ members because the high school public examination results were out and it was admission time. Rainy season also started during this time so we also become active in our kitchen garden extension programme. We also raised some local money by selling vegetables from our model farm and by selling handmade soaps to local people. We have also continued our work with boys and men particularly to discuss about the elimination of violence against women.
Life skill and sexuality education for adolescents: We are continuing our life skill and sexuality education for girls. During this period we have given lot of importance of life skill and sexuality education for adolescent boys and 90 boys and young men participated in the 3 trainings organized both in rural and urban areas.
Boys training in the city
It was an eye opener for us, even in city educated boys have the most traditional perspective on women. Most of them said rape is actually invited by women because of their dress and behavior. Everyone is protective about the from their homes that is their sisters, mother but not realized that all the women are sisters and mothers of someone like them. It was decided to initiate a boys organization ‘Nanaban’(Friend) to address these issues. As mentioned earlier lot of time was spent on career guidance and college admissions for those who passed their high school and higher secondary school examinations. . From our working area 180 girls passed their high school that is 10th standard public examinations and 87 girls passed their higher secondary public examination that is 12th standard. In the rural areas the problem is after 10th standard they have to go to a different place mostly nearby towns to continue their higher secondary class, these higher secondary classes are coeducational; so most of the parents hesitate to send their girl children for higher secondary course. For higher secondary class passed girls the problem is there is no college in the area the nearest college is 40 kilometers away. It was opened only two years back, so there is no hostel facility in the they also offer only two B.A courses. The problem is if girls stop their education at 16 or 18 years, their parents will immediately think about their marriage. To address this issue we have launched a new programme G2G-Girls to Graduates, that is helping high schools girls to complete their education upto graduate level, that is up to their 21 years of age. We have been discussing about this with the girls, parents, and school teachers, we are also in the process of raising funds for this purpose. We are also thinking of providing support for girls who wants to take of distance education programme to complete their undergraduate courses. During this period 300 girls and 90 boys benefitted from our life skill, sexuality education and career guidance programmes.
One of the major problems we faced is all our 8 computers in the rural centre become obsolete and not working, all are more than 6 years old, because of that we could not continue our computer skill programme in the rural area and looking for ways of buying new computers. We bought 2 new computers and managing with that.
Education and income generation programme for women: Our field workers are regularly organizing village level meetings and training for women. In the rural area the kitchen garden extension programme become popular and women are actively involved in that. Since the rainy season has started in our area, we have distributed seeds to women. Nearly 400 women received vegetable seeds. We have also organized trainings on kitchen garden, water management, waste management(manure making) for women, 380 women participated in these trainings. In our model farm by selling vegetables and soaps we raised Rs. 5000, even though it is a small amount it is raised from local women and we are happy about that. This also motivate the local women grow more vegetables so that they can also sell the extra vegetables. We are also in the process of creating a Producers company to market the produces like vegetables, fruits, coconut etc. We discussing and educating women about the producers company, because they have to pay money and become share holders of the company. We are also discussing it with our auditors and other people who are running the producers company to develop our own bye laws for the producers company. All these programmes were attended by more than 500 women, we are planning to motivate these 500 women as initial share holders of the producers company.
Woman showing the Pumpkin in her kitchen garden
Update- May 2013
We have been continuing our activities with women and adolescent girls that are Education and empowerment of women and lifeskill and sexuality education for adolescent girls. This period is examination and holidays for adolescent girl so concentration was more on adolescent girls. During this period Ms. Katharina and Ms.Daniela of Comtour Germany visited our project area to explore the possibilities of community based ecotourism. We hope that will open new possibilities for the community and our organization.
Lifeskill and sexuality education for adolescent girls: We have been continuing the life skill and sexuality education, actually it is integrated in all our activities with adolescent girls. Because of severe power cut and infra structure repairs(old computers, building) we could not continue our computer skill activities in full scale. The government is also not distributed free laptops to higher secondary school students in our working area. We have been organizing weekend trainings on life skill and sexuality education. 145 girls participated in these trainings. We have also organised life skill and sexuality education for boys. Nearly 80 boys participated in these trainings. We have also conducted lifeskill and sexuality education and environment education in 3 schools in our working area, that helped more than 400 students both boys and girls.
Folk Arts Training for Adolescent Girls
The increasing incidents of violence against women in India made us think seriously about our work with boys. Snihidhi members both in the city and villages discussed the issue of rape in Delhi on 16th December and participated in several protests, they also discussed the issue of the brutal acid attack and death of Vinodhini from Tamilnadu. The recent rape incident of a 5 year girl in Delhi also made the adolescent girls discuss about this issue. Discussion with our staff, girls, women and boys also helped us to relook into this matter and we have decided in the coming years we would intensify and give equal importance to our work with boys. We strongly feel that without the involvement of men and boys it is difficult to reduce or eliminate violence against women. In the coming years we will increase the number of boys we are working and also focus on boys in the schools, at lease organise one fathers meeting of Adolescent girls. Since it was examination time, we have organized supplementary education classes particularly for 10th and 12th standard girls. Passing these examinations are very important for these girls. If they fail; parents will automatically think about the marriage of the girls. Many of these girls now want to have a career and want to marry only after 21 years of age. That is a very positive thing and we are happy about our work. After the examinations from 1st My onwards we have organized 10 days community development programme for adolescent girls. 30 girls participated in that programme. The idea is motivate these girls to participate in their own development, this would also help to sustain the development activities initiated by us. That would help us to have a set of volunteers to help us in our activities. This would also open them a new career option of community development worker. If they are interested they can also go for higher studies in Social Work.
Training for Women
Education and income generation programme for women: We have been facilitating regular village level meetings and trainings. Nearly 300 women participated in these trainings. The recent rape incidents in Delhi and Acid attacks on women in Tamilnadu is also discussed in the meetings, because it is become popular because of the Media and even rural women want to do something about it. We have also conducted trainings in Kitchen garden and nursery rising, 120 women participated in these trainings. After seeing the success of the kitchen garden programme now we are thinking of initiating a Producers company with women as share holders. This would help them increase their yield and earnings. Our farm coordinator attended three days training programme on backyard poultry conducted by Tamilnadu Veterinary and Animal Science University extension centre Kancheepuram. In the coming months we are planning to introduce backyard poultry, goat and cow rearing trainings. We have kept a bee box in our centre and also educating about apiculture for those women who visit our centre. We have been contacting several organizations in this regard and will introduce in the coming year.
Ms.Kathrina and Ms.Daniela in a Kitchen garden
Another important thing happed is Ms.Katharina and Ms.Daniela visited the village to explore the possibilities of community based ecotourism. They visited villages and has discussions with the women to find out the possibilities. Actually the area is beautiful with lot of greenery and Bay of Bengal on the East side. The national highway ECR-East Coast Road was developed to develop this area as tourist area. They also visited the Alambarai and Kadapakkam our target villages and visited the Alambarai fort a historical place and the point where Buckingham canal joins with the bay of Bengal. If everything goes well soon we may start the community based ecotourism in these villages this would help the villagers earn some income from tourism related activities. Tourist will also learn about the villages.
During this period we have organized the second phase of RBM-Result Management Training and filed visits in rural area. Both our rural and urban area project staff attended this 3 days training programme.