Women's Empowerment and Gender Justice
Strengthening a support structure for gender justice – Vedha (means seeker: seeker of gender justice)implemented in two phases. 2004 to 2006 and from 2006 to 2008 in 6 districts of Maharashtra and Pune and Mumbai urban areas with support from Oxfam Australia. The two phases were focused on establishing support structures in Maharashtra to support women in distress /help survivors of VAW and demand appropriate policies and practice concerning all forms of VAW. During this period State government approved to implement the central government act of Domestic Violence Act (2005) which number of women's organizations including SAK were demanding for quite some time. SAK lobbied for introduction of family courts, appointment of Protection Officers and special training for police force to handle cases of VAW.
The specific achievements are:
- 1) Enhanced skills amongst 800 women elected at village councils, 120 block councils and 40 representatives from Marathwada and Solapur districts who after elected started taking up issues of Gender Responsive Budgeting in their municipal corporations and Zilla Parishads (District Councils) alongside issues of VAW and govt. program and policies in their operational areas.
- 2) 150 cases handled every year at the Information Resource Centers of Pune in operational districts and strengthened IRCs which are working closely with the grassroots women's groups on the themes of the present programme (VAW, GRB, community mobilization and group organisation) as support structures.
- 3) Enhanced counselling and trauma counselling skills amongst 40 social counsellors trained under the project who will have enhanced confidence to address the issues of survivors
- 4) 200 leaders from SHGs, Mahila Mandals (women Associations) and members elected to local Gram Panchayats and have adequate skills and confidence to raise voices of women from grassroots in general and victims of VAW in particular at various level.
- 5) About 500 women which participated in solidarity conventions now have adequate skills/knowledge in GRB, community mobilization, functioning of Mahila Dakshata Samitis and importantly the confidence/motivation to take up the issues of survivors to law enforcement agencies fearlessly.
- 6) Dr. Gorhe (MLC) took up number of issues of violence against women in the state and demanded strict action against culprits and emphasized on appropriate policies for introduction of GRB, addressing VAW and institutional mechanisms to deliver the law, functioning of family courts, stopping the sexual harassment of women at work place and eve teasing at schools, colleges and public places.
- 7) A gender sensitive Disaster Management Unit is operational and active whether or no disasters
- 8) A strong trained team of SAK staff (35) to work on the issues of gender in general and disaster management in particular.