Asia Initiatives has always been committed to women’s rights as we strive to support them through education and financial needs, amongst other niche initiatives in South Asia. Recently, with our work in Ahmedabad, AI has been focused on advocacy against domestic violence as well as promoting financial independence, and has brought together leaders in various communities to launch programs regarding domestic violence. AI is looking to the future, as these initiatives have already shown signs of success in their infancy.
In 2013, AI began supporting projects in Faizalnagar, Kwajanagar, Citizen Nagar, Abad Nagar, Ganeshnagar, Khodiarnagar and Idgah. Out of these areas, 21 representatives from the communities have been democratically chosen to be leaders in the movement against domestic violence. Specifically, 11 of these women created the Self-Help Group (SHG) making saving and credit area a key focus, while the 10 others will be focusing on advocacy. In February of this year, meetings were held with these women under the guidance of Ekta Nari Sangahan (ENS) to discuss how to strengthen the women’s organizations in the areas being supported. ENS is a women’s organization that has worked on various women’s issues in the past, particularly in regards to domestic violence.
The February discussions were successful in their ability to make decisions on how to proceed in supporting women against domestic violence in their homes and communities. The SHGs with the help of ENS decided that they would work on various issues, including domestic violence, violence against women, securing entitlements and special measures for adolescent girls and girl children. There was also a discussion as to how to facilitate effective linkages with the police for the protection of girls and women, and ENS decided to target these issues by developing such linkages and the capacities to take up issues of sexual violence and molestation. Furthermore, it was determined that all of the 21 women involved would become members of the ENS, thereby establishing ENS as the primary response organization when tackling the issue of domestic violence.
The 21 leaders held meetings to open formal membership in the SHG, and currently 105 women are planing to form more SHGs. Soon after the meetings were held, the first general body meeting was run on International Womens Day (8th March) with the support of ENS. During this meeting the draft rules were debated and discussed, which resulted in ratification of the majority of the rules. It was also decided that only one woman per family would be members of the SHGs, and in the area of credit and savings, during the first year no loans would be available, only savings. This informal process is taking place in consultation with the formal sector. In particular, in consulting local banks, the SHGs learned that bank managers were positive about SHG’s progress.
In February, the SHG also discussed the steps needed to acquire additional training such that they can work more formally, and in this blog space, we will eagerly provide updates. AI is very supportive of these projects and looks forward to seeing them grow in the future!