I asked Mina, the leader of the project what exactly Nishtha does on the ground - a lot more than I had previously understood. Mina gave me a detailed insight, in her own words, of what is happening on the ground:
Our organization Nishtha is a community based women’s organization which was born in the mid-seventies. Since then, its aim has been to empower women on their rights and empowering them to demand such rights.
NISHTHA’s focus of activities have been around education, especially for the girl children, Anti trafficking programme, Health & Nutrition programme, Formation of groups, Income Generation, free legal aid to victims of domestic violence, Night shelter for sex workers children, Sustainable Agriculture and women, Advocacy and campaign, women’s rights on safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education.
Nishtha presently works in more than 300 villages in 5 blocks in the District of South 24 Parganas and Malda Districts of West Bengal. The programmes of Nishtha have made it a participatory resource centre for community women, youths and elderly. In brief, a few major areas of activities are:
q Ensure every girl child to study in formal schools and do not drop out.
q Support the girl students with learning materials, Tuition fees, etc. and monitor their Progress.
q Vocational Training for girl children and young housewives.
q Income generation programme for the members of village women’s grups.
q Health clinics for adult, adolescents and aged women.
q Nutrition Program — including supply of nutrition rich food.
q Training and awareness on general and reproductive health, hygiene, sanitation, and environment.
q Drinking water and toilet and sanitation facilities to schools, individual households and communities.
q Awareness generation on safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.
q Formation of WATSAN Committees under leadership of women.
q Sexuality and Reproductive Health Program for the youth and newlywed couples.
q Training in sustainable agriculture to all members of farmer families to optimize food production, reduce use of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Adolescent volunteers act as promoters of bio-diversity.
q Establishing women’s rights over fixed assets and their right to be recognized as a farmer.
q Advocacy and campaign against violence and discrimination of women and girl children.
q Provide free legal support to victims of violence.
q Different BCC activities on child trafficking, child marriage and teenage and unwanted pregnancy, high rate of dropout amongst girl children,, domestic violence, etc. Special BCC activities are carried out on the problems on elderly women.
q Day Boarding and Night Shelter for Sex Workers’ children
q Putting up fight against domestic violence and child marriage and social and legal rehabilitation of the victims.
q Advocacy and campaign on the problems of the affected women and girl child of the land eroded areas by the side of river Ganga in Malda district.
q All through the year, Nishtha conducts trainings on different issues and subjects for different group viz. group leaders, volunteers, group members, staff, farmers, representative of other organizations, etc.
Your support is what is enabling Nishtha to carry our all of these activities.