Working On Child Rights, With Women!

मागील कार्यशाळेत आम्ही फक्त समजून घेतले आणि जे समजून घेतले ते आम्ही आमच्या आयुष्यात उतरविले...आम्ही दोघींनीही आमच्यावर होणार्‍या अत्याचारविरुद्ध आवाज उचलला...आता आम्हाला ही एक हक्काची जागा मिळाली.” - स्वरांजली आणि अंजली (सदोला गाव, केज, बीड जिल्हा)

Children fall prey to violence very easily. Child protection does not merely mean protection of child rights but along with that, it is important to create an environment to protect children entirely, because they are dependent on adults. CORO India’s intervention to create a conducive atmosphere for children includes various support systems and clusters, who facilitate and monitor child rights program in their regions. One such support group is that of “Women Leaders” who are above 24 years of age. 50 groups of women (20 women per group) from three districts - Beed, Nandurbar and Satara)

Why is this leadership important and what makes this leadership so special?

We need to understand that these leaders come from the most marginalized communities, who themselves are fighting for their identities - identity as a homemaker, nurturer, leader and change-maker. This leadership initiative by Gender Sensitized Program, aims at facilitating groups of women grassroots leaders, who understand working with the system and implementation, and self-issues. It is a known fact that, women in the rural setting do more work than men do; they independently handle household chores and also disguisedly are employed in the agricultural sector. Women leadership is extremely important because the roles women perform as their responsibility in their houses towards their family, should not be viewed as the sole purpose of their lives, and it can under no circumstances be used to crush women’s rights or their dreams. But, our society has paved gender-based discrimination and gives less rank to the labour and efforts of women. Our leadership initiative aims at making women understand how patriarchy manifests itself in a subtle manner, which makes women think that it is normal for them to feel discriminated, that they only should do home chores, it is normal for them to suffer violence and abuse.

Women have to face societal biases and prejudices against them on a daily basis. More often or not, they are looked up only as a childbearing human (sometimes, not even a human), who is responsible for taking care of the household chores, someone who is not given equal rights to decision-making at home. Despite all these inequalities that most of the women have to face in their individual lives, our women leaders have decided to take a step ahead against the self violence, hold the system accountable for the violence and act against it. That is what makes them so special.

“वरपगावच्या उमा ताई आणि मी पहिल्यांदा ह्या ट्रेनिंगला आले होते आणि माझ्या जावेच 3 ट्रेनिंग होत, मला वाटत होतं माझी जाव उगच कसल्या मिटटिंग ला जाते नुसतं फिरायला जाते पण इकडे आल्यावर तिचे बोलणे, बाकी सगळ्या महिलांचे बोलणे बघून मला माझ्या जावेचा अभिमान वाटतो.” - उमताई (वरपगाव, केज, बीड जिल्हा)”

The Process Of The Leadership Includes-

  • Sensitizing women and making them awake about the concepts of Gender and Patriarchy
  • Creating a free and an open space for women, and to let them express themselves, and ensure effective learning
  • Making women understand that violence manifests in day to day life and why it is wrong
  • To make women realize their worth, and the fact that they are at par with men, it’s just that the figure they constitute as “women” needs to be statistically significant.


What are we trying to achieve?

Children and women are both vulnerable; both face violence, are deprived of their rights and are victims of patriarchy. Through this leadership process, we aim at building capacity base to work on issues related to children and youth, by working with women and addressing women’s issues. The road towards achieving this includes - making women aware of their identities, emphasizing on the journey of leadership, by focusing on community and self, aligning work with child safeguard policies, and creating Zilla Parishad women leadership groups and organisations to tackle problems on a large scale.

WOMEN <——- CHILDREN——-> YOUTH

आम्हाला सुरुवातील वाटले की लोक आमच्या कपड्यांना बघून काय म्हणतील.. ते आमच्याशी बोलणार नाही..पण आम्ही जेव्हा या ट्रेनिंग मध्ये आले तेव्हा आम्हाला असे वाटलेच नाही की आम्ही कुठे दुसरीकडे आलो आहे..आम्ही आमच्या गावातच आहोत असे वाटले..इतके आम्हाला आपलेसे करून घेतले…” - मंगला वसावी (कोळ्दा गाव, नावापुर तालुका, नंदुरबार जिल्हा)

What Do We Do At The Workshop?

At Women Leadership workshop, we understand and facilitate gender-based roles, which are specified by the society. Here, our women leaders share their understanding of gender, where they are explained that these gender roles are nothing but social constructs. Discussions involve women sharing their experiences of- at what age did they come to realize that they are women, and what made them realize this? Majority of women answered that ‘discrimination and domination by pour family members over us and our thought processes or decision making processes’ made us realize that we are women. For instance, women saying – ‘I was not allowed to be equal to my brother ever, my brother used to get more importance than I ever got and that made me realize I am a woman and I’m inferior to men’. Second, a woman gave an example that her family chose a boy for her and she wasn’t even asked her opinion; whether or not she wants to marry? Does she like the boy? Nothing, it felt to her as if her decisions don’t matter at all. These workshops aim at creating an environment for women where they could express themselves freely, without the fear of judgment, where they aren’t bound by societal norms, and instead they feel that they are given enough importance and are made aware about their rights, the systems which deliberately made by the society to not let women progress or be at par with men. They also reflect on how these systems created by the society justify the violence against women, which is actually wrong and legally punishable. The women are vehement told about all of the things that they become aware of and it seemed from the overall feedback by our women that the purpose of this workshop is fulfilled, and the women will imbibe it and begin to act on it slowly and gradually.

#HerStoryOfChange

Warugad is the highest point in Mann taluka, of Satara district. It is a historic village! Just below this village is Warugad fort, in which the well built by Shivaji Maharaj never runs out of water. Warugad is home to 10 to 12 houses. There is no transportation facility in this village, nor is there any way to get there, as the road is very dangerous. So, once we come to this village, our connection with the whole world is broken. The Gram Panchayat faces alot of problems such as women’s health issues, children’s and adults’ issues and mainly the basic problems of the village. In this village, our women leaders who have come forward to fight these issues. Sangeeta is one such leader.

Our leader Sangeeta lived in Mumbai for 10-12 years, after her early marriage. As expenses started mounting, she found it difficult to sustain her family’s needs and thus, they decided to shift to Warugad village. After coming to the village, she involved herself in every sort of chores to manage her family’s expenses. As she juggled with all the responsibilities, her family faced a big blow. Her husband died and Sangeeta lost all her hope for survival. But she wanted to live for her children’s sake. She began working as a labourer and as a helper at health center, to make needs meet.

Life went on. Our leadership initiative had already progressed in Warugad village. We had established a women’s group to focus on leadership and issues related to them. This group was expected to work on children’s rights, while identifying and recognising self-issues, and take leadership in the village ahead. Our activists would frequently visit the villages to interact with the women. On one such meet, the activists came across Sangeeta, and she was asked to join the women’s group. But she categorically refused. She said “I can’t bear it and I’m afraid of talking to people. If I join this, what about my children’s education?” Thus, she withdrew. But she would attend the workshops, without getting much involved in the conversations. Eventually the scenario changed. Sangeeta started opening up. She would not just listen but she began sharing her life journey. She was asked to join for a 4- day leadership workshop on child rights, at Pune. Initially she was very reluctant to leave her children behind but for a greater good, she prepared herself to attend the workshop.

She participated well in the workshop. This training helped understand herself better, which included self-identity and being fearless. “Until today, we have never thought about ourselves. Whatever we have done to others and to those who are self-sufficient and what they see is such other womanhood, they thought that this had to change and that no one would change it. And this is where I have to start”, said Sangeeta. She carried forward this understanding ahead, along with other leaders, to work on various issues in the village.

One day she and her friends in the village decided to bring goddess Durga idol to the village, for people to worship. During this celebration, she interacted for the first time, with all the women and men of the village. Initially she felt worried but she managed to bring everyone together to celebrate.

Now, Sangeeta and other women leaders have started focusing on other issues in the village. There are many such instances. One of the important things that emerged through different interactions was that our leaders have solved many problems of the village, by having a dialogue with people on various aspects of our culture and traditions, that gives fewer rights and respect to women than men. These traits of Sangeeta have made her a true leader.

She is now working to make other women of the village more like her, and she is working on her own issues as well. Now, Sangeeta feels that she wants to improve living conditions in the village and reduce the oppression of children and women there. Our leaders are trying their best to improve the situation in the village; they are adamant to fight these issues back.

“या सर्व कोरोच्या कामातून मला जे समजले ते की, गाव आपले, प्रश्न आपले आणि सोडविणार पण आपण…त्यामुळे जर प्रश्न आपले तर नेतृत्व पण आपले….” - संगीतताई ( वारुगड, माण, सातारा जिल्हा)
What Next?

The future action plan is to create a village campaign by the women, in which they will formulate and decide on the action plans which should be carried out to protect the rights of children and women and help women come out of patriarchal barriers.