National Foundation for India
The Declaration of 1990 as the SAARC Year of the Girl Child and the decade as the SAARC Decade of the Girl Child has helped in highlighting the multiple problems and discrimination faced by the girl child. The National Foundation for India therefore decided to focus on this much neglected issue and in the last three years of grant-making has concentrated its support in this area.
The Foundation has adopted a four level approach to programming in the area.
The first level of interventions is at the grassroots level with local, community based organizations;
The second level of intervention is to initiate projects to build capacities of NGOs/community based organizations to enable them to design holistic, engendered, people centered projects ;
The third level of intervention seeks to put in place institutional mechanisms and facilitate strategic alliances and informal networking between organizations working on the issue of gender equity;
The fourth level of intervention is an attempt to influence public opinion/policy through sustained media intervention. The Foundation administered Media Fellowship programme has been used as a tool in the past, but other innovative ways of doing the same can be tried.
Community Services Guild (CSG), Tamil Nadu
The Community Services Guild (CSG) is an independent voluntary organization registered in 1975. The focus of its work has been the development of rural, tribal and urban poor, particularly women and children. CSGs approach is holistic to tackle the multiple problems in social, economic, health, educational and environmental spheres.
Of particular significance has been the organizations work in the prevention of female infanticide. One of CSGs most significant interventions is the Safe Childhood Scheme (1993-2000) spread over 533 villages in three blocks in Salem district.
The problem of female infanticide and foeticide came to the limelight in Tamil Nadu sometime in 1986 although the problem has been known to have been in existence since the 50s. The CSG conducted a study and a series of workshops which brought out the following information:
The long term objective of this five year intervention by the Foundation in partnership with CSG is to eradicate female infanticide in the project area and bring holistic development of the targeted families, including gender equality. More immediate aims in the last two and a half years have been to bring down the incidence of female infanticide substantially in the area through gender sensitization, increase enrollment of female children in schools and extend support for more employment opportunities for females; provide effective communication and education to evolve a positive image for females; campaign for equal participation of females in performing religious rites; support for better health care and reproductive health care practices; and enhance the level of womens income by improving their existing skills or introducing new economic opportunities.
The Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan was constituted as an organization of rural women in Kutch in 1989. It was conceived of, and is presently functioning as an unique partnership between rural womens collective, government and non-government bodies. The KMVS is a membership based organization The purpose of this form of organizational structure is to ensure that government, non-government and rural population make each other accountable for their respective roles, functions and objectives that they have committed themselves for (in KMVS). The other concept that guided the organizational structure and philosophy was that a vulnerable social group- rural women - needed strategic support from larger bodies to be able to negotiate with their immediate environment.
Some of KMVSs unique organizational policies have been :
The main programme areas of the organization now are a handicraft programme, programmes on ecology , legal aid, health and literacy.
For KMVS at present the priority is to nurture the leadership capabilities of the women who are members of the Sangathan. This it plans to do at three levels. First, systematically upgrade the knowledge, skills and information levels of the women. This in the context of KMVS now consolidating activities and training in the taluka sangathans to become independent local womens organizations Second, create effective tools and systems of communication by which the lead group impacts a larger number of women within their talukas. Third, initiate the lead group to begin mobilizing adolescent girls in the villages, primarily through educational interventions and training.
The Foundation supported intervention for the above project therefore has the following components; capacity building of lead groups, educational interventions for adolescent girls and documentation and information dissemination. The target group for capacity building of lead groups was 500 women. The five talukas to be covered over a three year period are Bhuj, Nakhatrana, Mundra, Abdasa and Lakhpat. The training has been divided into three phases (each phase being one year). Under the educational programme 750 girls in the age group of 12-18 will be covered during the three year project period. The talukas covered will be the same as the above. Support for documentation and information dissemination will be extended to the documentation centre run by the women of the Mundra Sangathan. For the last couple of years they have been bringing out a newsletter by and for neo-literate women. The principle support has been for wider dissemination of this newsletter. besides this the Foundation support has allowed the women in this Sangathan to start a screen printing unit.