Vimarsh

Project Theme

Transformative Women's leadership

Target Group

Others

Project Period

01 Jul 2015 - 30 Mar 2016

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Introduction

The 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution have institutionalized the participation of women in the decision making process within the three tier panchayati raj system and in the urban local bodies. Yet the actual participation of women is fraught with challenges at various levels. Established power structures have continued to operate, and women have more often functioned as “proxies” of their male relatives. This has resulted in a non seriousness on women’s issues, even in states like Uttarakhand which have provided 50% reservation for women in Panchayats. The project seeks to promote intense and positive engagement of women in the decision making process in the state of Uttarakhand by addressing factors such as discriminatory social practices, weak political commitments, caste based discrimination, negative social and legal environments, family and household pressures etc. that impede their productive participation in the decision making process. 

Vimarsh with its base in District Nainital is working at the village level with rural women, youth (boys and girls) and other stakeholders (Government, media, other agencies) to address the issues of women  related to violence and governance . Vimarsh is actively involved in regional, state and national level networks of people’s movements, social action groups and NGO’s (with a social conscience) for creating popular public pressure on anti people policies and advocating pro-people policies at all levels. Vimarsh works on the issue of women empowerment, child rights, health, education, strengthening local self-governance institutions, livelihood security, and natural resource management. Vimarsh is also notified service provider under PWDVAct and the member in PCPNDT district level committee.

 

About the Project: 

The project aims to develop women’s understanding of their roles in the decision making process in governance and hone their leadership skills such that they can contribute fully and effectively to governance. Greater participation in the process would not only lead to the social upliftment of those who are directly a part of the process but by laying down women specific policies and making self governance institutions more sensitive to the needs of women, these direct participants will also contribute to the uplift of all women in the district.  Vimarsh’s experience has been that women’s federations have exhibited robust  participation in the affairs of Panchayats, vigilantly protested against violence directed to women, and have ensured justice by getting the perpetrators convicted, among other things. These groups have earned a name for themselves in their respective villages, where they work through self help groups, which have constantly engaged with district level administration for proper implementation of such schemes that directly impact their lives- such as MNERGA, Indira Awas Yojana, and employment for BPL women, pension schemes and child birth registration.  The federations and SHGs have thus not just improved the lives of their members but also contributed to the well being of entire villages, and this capacity must be further enhanced

 

Objectives of the project 

•To increase the representation, participation and leadership of women in decision making forums in public governance institutions.

•To develop a strong federation of members who are capable of asserting their rights and entitlements and advocating for reduction in gender inequalities

•To increase transparency and accountability in governance systems and enhance responsiveness of government service delivery mechanisms.

 

 Coverage area 

•The head office of Vimarsh  is based at Pithoragarh from where they are directly implementing the project in 2 blocks of Nainital district; Betalghat and Bheemtal.

• Total number of blocks - 2

•Number of villages - 84

•Total number of Panchayats - 20

 

Results to be Achieved / Impact: 

•Increased awareness among women leaders and women’s collectives about women’s rights, roles, and entitlements in governance provisions, institutions, processes, and schemes 

•Women leaders and women’s collectives from marginalized groups in states are strengthened to act as agents of change on governance issues 

•Representation of issues, around violence and discrimination against women and girls, in local governance forums have increased. 

•Effective lobbing with Parliamentarians for enactment of Women’s Reservation Bill     

 

Prior Achievements:

  • In 2014’s Panchayat elections, 105 women from women collectives participated out of which 101 were elected for various positions. It was for the first time in the Nainital district that in two Panchayat areas all the elected members were women. And they contested election from general seat. Filed 2 cases of DV act DIR
  • On the occasion of women day’s an event was organized in which 318 women and adolescent girls participated from different blocks of Nainital.  All the women took out the rally on gender equality in stretch of 2 kilometre in Nainital.  This was big opportunity for women to come out and celebrate womanhood. Adolescent girls portray different stereo type roles of female and were part of the rally. This gave clear an opportunity to women to register their presence and actively express themselves without interference of the male.
  • This year resource group comprising of 6 women was formed, to provide training on issues like gender and domestic violence, Panchayat Raj, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment guarantee act and right to education. These women were identified from the collectives who had good leadership skills and given training.  Thereafter, these trained leaders took the responsibility of giving training to women collectives in their villages. This resource group has organized 56 training in which 401 participants participated, among which 367 women and 34 men were there. 

 

Quotes of Beneficiaries: 

“Aaj agar hamari panchayt acchay say kaam  kar rahi hai ho wo lagatar apnay sangathan say zuray rahany kay karan ..ganga Bhetalghat.

 

Case Studies/Human stories:

Kamla lives in village Khamari Kulethi of Nainital district in Uttarakhand. She is 38 years old. She is from Schedule caste community. For livelihood she used to do work as labourer. When Vimarsh started the work in 2002 in her village she joined women group as a member. At that time she used to speak very less. She actively participated in all functions organized by the organization and always used the information given by organization in her day to day life.

She belonged to poor family her annual income is about eleven thousand but government had issued her Above Poverty Line card. Due to efforts of women group and VIMARSH later she was issued Below Poverty Line card.  Regularly she started participating in gram sabha meetings. 

She raised her voice against low distribution of wages to women and also about fewer women given employment under MNREGA scheme. With efforts of women group she was able to get women employed under MNREGA scheme not only in her village but in other villages also. In 2009 she was elected as ward member of her village. Her role and responsibilities as ward member was to develop a plan of her ward and raise issues like road, water, education, health etc. 

In 2014 women group decided that Kamla will contest election for Village Pradhan. The basic reason was that the seat was reserved for women and ex pradhan was supporting other woman for which he was spending lot of money. But kamla got support from women’s group and sensitized men folks. These people supported her because she could put forward issues strongly and participated at all levels in the Panchayat. 

To put in her papers for contesting election all women from women’s group accompanied her to the block. All of them actively participated in her support and campaigned for her door to door, along with poster and wall writing. Women from Women’s group along with Kamla were present in the polling booth to ensure that no wrong voting happens. Members of women’s group became agent and they were present throughout the counting procedure.

After all the struggles Kamla was finally was elected village Pradhan on June 27, 2014 due to her knowledge and commitment toward development of the village. 

After getting elected as Pradhan the first statement she gave was “ Aaj main Aam se khas bani hoon, meri ye jeet sanghthan ki jeet hai.”