| Oct 26, 2016
Inching towards the goal of violence free homes
Community women at the awareness rally
Dear Maitri Friend,
We are gaining momentum with our efforts to bring community women together with the purpose to empower them economically and socially.
Women's Group: In the last quarter, the women’s group (Mahila Panchayat) had 11 meetings. We have 25 women in the group. Each meeting is designed to create a safe platform for women to discuss about issues that concern them. The agenda for each meeting and the topics for discussion are aimed at shaping their attitude. Also, to inform them about their rights and the steps they can take to stand up for themselves.
Self Help Group: The Self Help Group consisting of 16 women received a two-day training. Our goal is to equip the group to save a small amount every month. And the savings will be available to members in case of any emergency. It will help them access small loan in times of need. The training helped the women understand the group dynamics and strengthen their bonding. The SHG members understood that the key to their success is mutual cooperation. At the end, three women were appointed leaders of the group. They will also be responsible for maintaining the savings book.
Support to Women facing Domestic Violence: In the last quarter we provided support and legal guidance to 35 women facing Domestic Violence. Most of them were young women facing violence at the hands of their husbands. Maitri helped them regain their confidence and take necessary steps to fight for their rights.
DV Awareness Campaign: October is observed as a Domestic Violence Awareness month worldwide. At Maitri, we conducted a series of activity to create awareness about domestic violence in our community. Our objective was to bring together the women and men of the community to take a unified stand and break the silence against Domestic Violence.
On 14th October’2016 we organized a Rally against Domestic Violence in and around the 4 communities we work in. 60 people including women, youth and children from the community joined in. The challenge we faced during the rally was the hesitations of women to come out to join the rally because their husbands didn’t approve. Those who did join in the rally took a bold and inspiring step towards a change.
On 16th October 2016 our community youth group did a street play on domestic violence in the community. The play was based on breaking the silence against domestic violence and giving equal opportunity to girls in the family. After the an elderly man shared that he understands the message but also knows only few people are willing to understand the message rest will simply ignore the message because they wish to maintain their superiority. Such meaningful conversation with the community only motivates us to spread the message of gender equality.
On 21st October 2016 we invited our community to watch a movie Dor that has a powerful message about women’s empowerment. 15 women and 10 youth and few kids watched the movie. The women connected on all aspects with the characters of the movie. In the end, we had a small discussion with the women about how life changes for widow women and how strong women can be to break the societal barriers if they trust each other and work as a team.
We have also been running the online campaing Count On Me and mobilising individuals to write their pledge to end DV and take a picture holding the paper and sharing it online. We will update you more on this when we conclude the campaign.
Power of community support
Pooja suffered abuse and violence at the hands of her husband and his family. Her fault: giving birth to a girl child. Her husband wanted a son. Fearing for the life of the girl child, Pooja’s parents came and took the child with them. Three years later she gave birth to a boy. She hoped this would appease her husband. However, her husband now had a new reason to abuse her. He started demanding for dowry. Five years into marriage, Pooja was completely controlled by her husband. At his whims and fancy, he would drop Pooja and children at her parents and would not take them home for months. While Pooja lived with her parents she came in contact with Maitri’s community project and joined the women’s group (Mahila Panchayat). This helped her come out of the isolation and interact with other women. She then opened up about her situation. When her husband came to pick her up again, Maitri stood with Pooja and got written consent from him and his family declaring that they will be responsible if any harm is caused to her. However, after some months of returning to with her husband he again turned violent and Pooja fled to her parent’s house. Maitri helped her approach the Delhi Commission for Women. Pooja and her husband were counseled and her husband was given clear warning about violence and reminded of his responsibility as a husband and a father. This was a turning point for Pooja. Recently, Maitri did another follow up call with Pooja and found that she is doing well. Her husband has stopped being violent. He has even got a job and is able to take care of his family. All this was possible because Pooja was empowered and supported to say no to violence.
Women taking steps towards a change
Community youth performing a street play around DV
The street play helped us start a conversation
Women's Group during a meeting