Recently, Jonathon Clark, Karuna Trust Programme Manager for the project visited the team in India to monitor the work and offer guidance. Here are his thoughts on the recent anti-violence against women campaign carried out by the project:
"When I visited, the team were in the middle of a fortnight long campaign focussing on the issue of violence against women. The campaign has been organised through the Maitri network; a network of women’s organisations from different parts of India that was set up and facilitated by Karuna Trust. The network enables representatives of women’s organisations to come together to share their experiences and organise nationwide campaigns on issues of relevance to women from dalit and other marginalised backgrounds. Involvement in this network has enabled the project team to broaden the scope of their work. After three years of working intensively at a grassroots community level they are now extending their awareness raising activities to include police, teachers and local schools. This is allowing them to have a broader impact on the issues affecting the lives of their beneficiaries.
The team was obviously very excited by the campaign, and feeling confident and empowered. Over the previous week the team had organised a rally of 200 women and girls that was covered by all the local papers. They also conducted an awareness raising session with 100 teachers on the Sexual Harassment Act and Domestic Violence Act; awareness raising sessions with 700 adolescent boys on the theme of respect for women; and two sessions with local police on domestic violence and sexual harassment involving 100 local policemen. Earlier in the month they had organised a training in Pune for representatives of 40 other women’s organisations from different parts of India, focussing on the Domestic Violence Act and recent legislation on sexual harassment.
The project leader Karunaprabha expressed her satisfaction “Before we felt we were working in isolation but now we are able to learn from other organisations and use their experience to take our work to a new level. Now we are even able to become a leading women’s organisation and provide leadership and training to other organisations. I am now doing things I never dreamed I’d be able to do."
The project continues to work toward its target of reducing the level of disadvantage, suffering and gender discrimination facing women and adolescent girls living in the slum districts of Pune. In order to help them to do this the project team gather information on their activities as well as the results of these activities. This allows us to evaluate what is working and what needs changing.
We are really happy the way the project is progressing. From April 2014 to September 2014:
308 girls visited the police station and the bank to learn vital life skills such as lodging a police complaint or opening a bank account. This will be the first time many of these girls have ventured outside the slum. The exercise builds a lot of confidence.
The project provides English, computer and tailoring classes as part of the drive to get women into well paid employment. This gives them a degree of independence and security against being trapped in abusive family situations. 57 girls attended tailoring classes of whom 42 are now in paid employment. 34 students got jobs through the projects basic computer training.
Anaemia is a problem in the project area. Poor and inadequate diets mean girls are often lacking essential nutrients. The project challenges this problem through health checks and educating women and girls on the importance of diet. 143 women and girls attended a nutritional recipe demonstration organised by the project team. 208 girls attended haemoglobin check-up camps.
India has recently been in the news regarding its treatment of women. The project looks to safeguard women and girls safety through education on their rights. The project put on workshops for 46 girls on domestic violence awareness.
“On completion of my course from the project I received a certificate. With this I was able to get a loan from the local project self-help group to start my own business. Now I am very happy”
Rajashree, 23, lives with her husband, son, daughter, mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law in the area of Kasalagar, Pune, India. Prior to coming into contact with the project she spent most of her time at home cleaning and caring for her family. She was dependent on her husband and the £150 per month he earned from his job as a driver. One day she saw a notice for the stitching and tailoring classes provided by the project. She went home and discussed it with her family, who agreed it was a good idea to enrol in the course.
“I started my tailoring class, there my tailoring teacher is very good in teaching skills, whenever I got trouble in cutting and stitching, she explains me and makes things easy for me to learn”.
With the help of her teacher, Rajashree cut and stitched her first blouse within 20 days of starting the course. After that, she started by saving money for her family and friends by doing their stitching for them at home.
However she quickly progressed in confidence and decided to go the local women’s self-help group run by the project to seek a loan to start a small tailoring business. Despite some initial problems Rajashree quickly became a skilled tailor and currently she is earning her own income through her business. Now she feels much more independent and has money of her own to use as she needs.
Rajashree is very thankful to the project for the opportunity it has given her. Without it she would still be confined to home and dependent on her husband’s salary for income.
We have recently visited our project team in Pune to make a video document of the fantastic work that they have been doing with the local women and girls. The video introduces our inspiring project manager Dr Mande Mune. Dr Mune grew up as a young Dalit girl from a very poor family. She managed to resist pressure to get married at a young age in order to finish her education. She went on to complete her medical degree and now works towards helping young girls and women like her to avoid a life of poverty. Please follow the link to find out more about Dr Mune’s invaluable work in providing a new life to women and girls in the slums of Pune, India.
“When I was at home, I use to see neighborhood girls go to school. When I saw them, I wished to study like them and be able to go to school like them. Now I am also going to school. I am very happy and much confident too.” Anita
Anita from Rajivgandhi Nagar, Vishrantwadi, India is 16 years of age. She comes from a very poor family. She lives at home with her sister and brother in law as well as both his parents. Two years she lost her father and her mother became very ill as a result of the shock. Her mother has since been unable to work.
Anita and her sister left school three years ago to help provide for the family. She had to clean, cook and wash clothes and kitchen utensils. Her sister works as a garbage collector to earn money and Anita often goes out to help her with it.
Anita met with a Green Tara project worker who explained that the project helped girls like her get back and complete their education. She was guided to re-enrol after a three year absence. Because Anita’s house is very small Green Tara provide her and girls like her a space to study that is quiet and free from distraction.
Anita has completed 6th Class and is now studying for her 7th Class exams. Anita often saw her peers going to school when she had to stay at home and work. “Now I am also going to school. I am very happy and much confident too. I have gratitude towards Green Tara foundation for showing me that I can go to school again after dropping out three years ago”.
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