Promote grassroots advocacy through women’s literacy

The empowerment of women constitutes an integral part of a country’s progress. Rights-based advocacy and literacy are critical to overall development along with health and nutrition. Women from marginalised communities in rural areas continue to face societal restrictions while going about daily activities. They often are unaware of their property rights, and there is no one to advocate for them either.

The Tata Trusts seek to empower women through education and opportunities for sustainable livelihood. The Trusts are seeking to provide functional literacy to vulnerable women by furnishing them with the tools to take on daily challenges. In order to build leadership among marginalised communities where no such leadership exists, the Trusts, with the help of CORO, implemented a Leadership Development Programme in Maharashtra.

Key achievements

The Trusts’ Leadership Development Programme was initiated by 32 leaders in 276 villages across 4 districts; the outreach covered more than 5,000 single women, out of whom 427 single women were identified and trained. Community-level governance processes such as Mahila Mandals were created, to deal with community issues. Out of the 144 issues raised by the community, the Mahila Mandals have resolved 70.

Over 4,080 single women regularly attended gram sabhas; 32 of them even contested local elections, and three women were elected. This programme also saw 59 cases where social norms were challenged. For example, traditionally, widowed women had to break their bangles as a sign of their demotion from being married back to being single. Owing to the programme intervention, this entrenched social norm has been questioned, delayed and in some cases, rejected.

Another key achievement of the programme lies in providing access to government schemes to single women. About 2,754 single women have been linked to appropriate schemes. Single women have also been taught to realise their property rights – 36 of them (inclusive of widowed, destitute, women separated from their family due to domestic violence) successfully fought for their rights. Around 112 cases of domestic violence have been registered in Marathwada where this programme was implemented.

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