Gazala is 19 years old. She lives with her parents, brother and two sisters in the Bhimnagar Slum in Vishrantwadi. The family live in a single room house with tin walls and tin roof for shelter.
Gazala first heard of the project through a survey of the needs of the local community being conducted by the project team. At the time Gazala was unemployed, out of school, and with little to occupy her. The family was struggling to survive on her father’s £60 per month income.
With encouragement from the project workers, Gazala enrolled in the projects 4 month tailoring course with the hope of helping her family. Though she was unsure of herself and slow to ask questions she soon gained confidence. Gazala now runs her own small business stitching clothes for the local community. Her £50 per month income allows the family to live with greater security.
Having experienced the benefits of the project Gazala now enrolls other girls from her neighborhood into the project. She is one of the many examples of individual transformation created by the project.
As Karuna programme manager for this project I visited twice during this period (November 2014& Feb 2015) to review project activities and go through the narrative and financial reports with the team. I have been pleased to see the level of recording of project data and reporting improve steadily over the past two years and see this current year-end report as a significant step forward in the quality of their reporting. The project now has good systems in place for tracking the number of girls participating in each program and for assessing the impact of the work on broader issues affecting adolescent girls.
This is a long- standing community-based project that has been working effectively for more than ten years in the slum districts around Pune. It draws many of its project staff from within the beneficiary community and works in a holistic way to address the specific issues facing adolescent girls living in the slums. This consistency has enabled the project team to develop and refine their experience, skills and approach over time, whilst building strong and effective community networks. For example they have developed new advocacy skills through their participation in the Maitri Network and this now gives them the confidence to liaise effectively with police, local schools and other local authorities over issues affecting adolescent girls.
Another significant new development is that they are now involving adolescent boys in some of their classes and awareness raising activities. Karuna welcomes this development as we see it as essential to involve boys as well as girls in seeking to bring about a sustainable, long- term shift in gender attitudes.
The project team are busy implement the goals and targets thay have set for the coming year. After years of working intensively at a grassroots community level they are now extending their advocacy activities to a broader range of higher level stakeholders including police, teachers and local schools. This is enabling them to have a broader impact on the issues affecting the lives of their beneficiaries.
There have been challenges though. The project needs permission to run study support classes at the local school from local government. As a result of bureaucratic procedures this has proven difficult. Project staff members are often from poor backgrounds and are not used to interacting with government officials. Project staff have had to learn confidence in dealing with people in positions of authority.
The project has found resistance in enrolling women and girls from some religious minority communities. Traditional attitudes hold that women’s place is in the home. Families also have safety concerns around letting girls travel on public transport or walking long distances. Project staff have developed communication skills in sensitively assuring parents that letting their daughters travel to study and work is best for them and their families in the long run.
In the last six months the project have delivered services to women and girls in the surrounding slums of Pune. The numbers reached are reported bellow.
Reducing Gender Inequality
Educational Support Classes
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:
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