SPARK

Project Theme

Transformative Women's leadership

Target Group

Others

Project Period

01 Jul 2015 - 30 Jun 2016

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Introduction

SPARK is a rights based organization and works with a mandate to create a gender just and egalitarian society. During late nineties while pursuing his diploma in rural development, Mr. Imam Hussain Fatmi and his friends realized the division of society at various lines of caste and class and forms of discrimination prevailing in the community. There was also a strong realization that women in general and more specifically the tribal, Dalit and Muslim women suffer from many forms of discrimination and their human rights are violated at various stages of life which includes lack of education, economic disadvantages, social disempowerment, domestic violence, trafficking and political invisibility. It was this period that vague ideas were taking a concrete shape in the minds which was finally translated in the form of some organized intervention in the native village and work for sustainable development through organizing groups of women and youth in rural areas, make judicious use of government resources for the large benefit of the people and advocate for enhancing justice with specific focus on gender justice. Hence, since its inception the major focus of SPARK has been on addressing vulnerabilities with special emphasis on vulnerabilities among women and children. For over a decade now, SPARK has been working on various issues but with a gender lens and since 2004 onwards women’s rights has been at the heart of all the work done. It has addressed the issues of gender based discrimination and violence against women with specific focus on domestic violence, trafficking and witch craft. At community level mass efforts have been made to collectivize women, men and adolescent girls and create awareness on issues related to women and build their capacities to take leadership role in decision making processes both in public and private sphere. The organization works with participatory approach and believes that people’s participation is the corner stone of development and it is particularly essential at the field level as participation enables people to take greater control over their lives and demand their rights and entitlements. The community based development requires people to define their own needs and collectively raise voices. Hence the focus of the organization lies on empowering communities, forming women and girls collective and creating space for women to discuss and confront issues pertaining to violence against women and larger developmental issues pertaining to women. 

SPARK realizes that information is an indispensable input in the process of development and it is critical in linking the grassroots programming with the policy level changes. Therefore constant efforts have been made to bridge the communication gap that exists between the grass root communities, several tiers of administration, the PRIs and the policy makers.  

 

About the Project: 

The project aims to empower women representatives in PRIs and also the other interested women from socially excluded groups (SC, ST, Muslims) so that they understand their roles and responsibilities, analyse violence against women issues confronting them and participate in the decision making process effectively. This would ensure that socially, economically and politically marginalized women issues are mainstreamed and they are encouraged to challenge the stereotypes and have confidence to be able to ensure their worth at family, society and political field. Elected women representatives and other women, would be trained to conduct community based monitoring to identify the gaps in the implementation of social protection schemes, availability and accessibility of women to the existing services and government support services mechanisms for addressing violence against women. Studies and research work around the issue of violence against women and women’s leadership in governance institutions will be conducted during the project life which can contribute to the larger policy advocacy. 

Also as part of work on ending violence against women, the focus will be on domestic violence. The program will use a three pronged strategy of policy advocacy, community level prevention mechanisms and campaigning on changing attitudes and beliefs. Campaign, capacity building of CBOs, Govt. Officials and advocacy for effective implementation of PWDVA 2005 will be done. The broad strategy for implementation of the project would be to build network at grassroots and mobilize women to raise voices on violence against women, ensure support services, promote community based monitoring of Government schemes( CSS and other schemes pertaining to women) so that better implementation takes place. Reduced acceptance of violence against women and gender inequalities will be the primary objective of the work on violence against women. Awareness meetings will be held to bring about attitudinal changes to challenge discriminatory belief systems and practices to end violence against women. Capacity building of CBOs, research on implementation of PWDVA2005 would be the focus. Also, EWRs will take up the issues of VAW and put them on agenda of gram Panchayat and advocate for proper implementation at all levels - block, district and state level.  

 

Objective: 

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

•To develop a strong federation capable of asserting their rights and entitlements and advocate for reducing gender inequalities

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

 

Activities:

•Block level Federation meeting.

•State level strategy meetings of network/core committee meeting for planning interventions and review of the project 

•Adhikar Yatra of EWRs

•Awareness meeting in each village for Mahila Sabha

•Capacity building of CBO members / leaders

•Block level camp

 

Results to be Achieved: 

•Increased awareness among Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) and women’s collectives about women’s rights, roles and entitlements in governance provisions, institutions, processes and schemes.

•Jagruk Samiti members are recognized as potential leaders and prime movers of social change asserting women’s rights, and entitlements

•The EWRs make more informed interventions and advocate for including women’s agenda in the gram sabha and the village development plan. 

•State level accountability is enhanced and Government officials respond sensitively to gender concerns and entitlements of women under Government schemes.

•Increased access to formal and informal justice systems by women experiencing violence, especially those from marginalized communities in the program districts 

•Policy advocacy led by civil society network and core group of federation members for appropriate government service delivery of violence against women (VAW) programmes in targeted districts. 

•Federations are in place with clear mandate and strategic plan for advocacy. 

 

Prior Achievements:

•The elected women representatives have completed their four years in the capacity of PRI members. They initiated their journey as “proxies” of their male relatives and have gradually moved out to establish their identity as PRI members. 

•Over 270 elected women representatives have made a constant effort to generate awareness among community women and have also ensured their presence and participation in Panchayat Samiti meeting, Gram Sabha. As a result over 3060 community women have participated in the Gram Sabha/Mahila Sabha. Of these around 527 women have put up the women’s issues on the agenda of Gram Panchayat.

•1840 Jagruk Samiti members and over 2471 community women have participated in the Gram Sabha/Mahila Sabha. Of these around 1123 women raised issues related to women which include the women’s access to various social security schemes, response of redressal mechanisms to cases of violence against women. Discussion on gender and violence against women has taken place in 207 Gram Sabha in which 914 women have raised the issue and put forth their views. 

•As part of CBM, around 50 federation members and Field staff were oriented on various participatory process of monitoring various forms of violence in the community, identification of perpetrators and the institutions inflicting violence, vulnerability mapping and violence matrix.

•To a large extent federation members have been able to make horizontal linkages with govt. Bodies and PRIs, however, vertical linkages with Govt. officials is yet to be established.

•Altogether 1305 applications were submitted under various government schemes for support in accessing entitlements. The elected women representatives and other Jagruk Samiti members together made efforts to help these women and forwarded 1305 applications to various govt. departments and 1219 of them received support as per their entitlement. 

•Around 296 cases of various forms of violence against women were taken up by Jagruk Samiti and some of them were solved at the level of Samiti itself and some were solved with the intervention of panchayats. 

 

Quotes of Beneficiaries: 

Name Mamta

Village : Jarba

Panchayat: Jarba

District Hazaribagh

“We have struggled a lot for creating space for ourselves. The struggle started from family and after I was elected as Mukhiya, the struggle was even more as now I had to function in the public sphere. Although I am from the very beginning a part of the grassroots pressure group and have been solving cases of domestic violence , however, functioning in a governance system was very difficult. But gradually with the support of women in the community, I have been able to change my identity from a housewife to an elected representative. However, our struggle continues at district and state level” 

 

Case Studies/Human stories

Punishing the culprit - 

Manwa Kumari (45) daughter of Mr. Dhano Thakur under Meru Thana in Hazaribagh district is physically challenged (deaf and dumb) lady. On 2nd January 2015 when she went to her nearby field for personal need Mr. Samsher Singh, son of Late Chandrabali Singh sighted her alone and  committed rape. Manwa managed to escape to her home and narrated the entire incident to her sister-in-law in sign language. After knowing all incidents her brother Mr. Rooplal Thakur and sister-in-law met with Ms. Rajni Kiran, Secretary, Darpan and members of Jagruk Samiti and narrated the entire story. They went to police station with Jagruk Samity members and gave application asking for justice for Manwa Kumari. The police took this matter seriously and enquired the matter. After finding guilty Mr. Samsher Singh was arrested and set to jail. The members of the Jagruk Samity have also done counseling of the family and are in regular touch with the family.