Brothers Integrated Rural Development Society
Women Empowerment Program
Empowerment for women in India requires a crosscutting approach and one which addresses the diversity of social structures that govern women’s lives. Identity politics in India is a very critical political instrument, which is both used and abused throughout political and social institutions. There are numerous social movements fighting for the rights of the marginalized, such as the Dalit rights movement, the tribal rights movement, etc. These movements have achieved many gains in assuring representation of the traditionally marginalized communities into mainstream society. Women’s rights within these movements are largely unarticulated and thus reinforce inequalities within the very structures from which they are demanding inclusion. Empowerment approaches for women therefore is not only about providing services, but also about recognizing their lived realities of multiple layers of discrimination that hinder their access to services.
The reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in the Parliament is also something that has been proposed and rejected many times. India has only 12.2 per cent women in the Parliament. In panchayats, however, women got reserved seats in 1993, which is a milestone in the history of our rural development.
The status of widows are even worse. The society still treats them in a despicable manner, especially among Hindus. In many cases, they are either abandoned by families or sent to Vindravan or Banaras to live a life of penury. In Vrindavan, there are around 6000 widowed women living on almost no money of their own and depending entirely on charity. A small pension of Rs 350 per month (which was Rs 200 earlier) is granted to them under the Indira Gandhi National Pension Scheme. In most States, there is something wrong in the way widows are treated by the society, considering them a bad omen and excluding them for being inauspicious. These patriarchal customs lower the status of women in the country.
If she is a wage worker, her wages are much lower than of men. In remote villages, a woman has to fetch water, gather firewood, tend to cattle, look after the elderly and the children. It takes them the entire day to complete the chores. Life is hard and constrained for millions of rural women. Some of them have been rescued by BIRDS and they have found group comfort in working together, learning skills and getting paid. BIRDS has taken many steps to empower women to have dignified life in the society.
To organize women into self help groups and develop their leadership qualities to facilitate making decisions at personal and social levels. community-building events, and in-depth training sessions for our volunteers
Self-awareness, Illiteracy, Untouchability, Unemployment, health issues, poverty etc
• Formulation of Self Help Groups
• Micro Finance assistance
• Capacity building and Leadership Training Activities
• Income generation program and entrepreneurship support
• Skill training
• Awareness programs on women rights
• Women federation
• Promoting thrift and credit programs
BIRDS has 210 self help groups in which nearly 2800 women from Bangalore rural and urban are involved. The following benefits are given to the women through SHGs.
1. Introducing shaving system, 2. Micro finance assistance, 3. Leadership and capacity building training, 4. linkages with Government programs, 5. Promoting unity and support each others etc
BIRDS provides various training programs for the women to empower them in the society. the following training are given to the women.
1. Four Wheeler driving, 2. Tailoring, 3. Computer training, 4. Phenyl and plate making training, etc
Family counselling in the slum and villages for the depressed families. Helping the women to overcome the challenges they face in the society. Periodically BIRDS organised health camp in the villages as well as in the slums. Also supporting the women for treatments in the government hospitals for major problems.
BIRDS has Domestic workers union, which is registered at Karnataka Government. Morethan 280 domestic workers are in associated in this union and helping all the benefits from the Government and also getting all kinds of rights through various training program given by BIRDS.
Mrs. Yashodamma, 58 years old is one of our members in self help group from Janakiram Layout,a slum located in Bangalore. She has 3 children studying in government schools. Her husband is an auto driver who has given into drug addiction and spends all his earnings on alcohol. Along with this he also has an extra marital affair hence is not bothered about his family. He used to harass Yashodamma and her children and chase them out of the house at night.
Mrs. Sudha, 35 years hails from HENNUR Slum. She lost her husband at the age of 30 years and was left to shoulder the family responsibility of taking care of her two children and their needs. She was desperate to get into a job and earn to cater to the needs of her family. This was not possible as she had no skills for any employment. With this desperate situation she approached BIRDS staff requesting for help and guidance. Assessing her helpless situation and her determination to learn some skills she was referred to avail training in four wheeler driving which was supported by Manos Unidas.
I am a house wife and a good cook too. I was part of the Self Help Group under the BIRDS program. BIRDS introduced driving classes for women to be self sustained. I was not eligible due to age limit. Later I was called and informed that the age criteria has been relaxed. I immediately jumped into the offer and even pulled along a friend of mine to learn car driving.
At first, I felt very excited to sit inside a car and that too as a driver (learning). It was a 30 days car driving course with 17 classes practical and 13 classes theory. My neighbours were inquisitive hence I had to explain to them about the BIRDS Organisation (what is this do we have to explain?) and the job opportunities. Today I can proudly say that I possess a driving license and am able to drive a car to make an additional income. I was able to learn again and achieve this after 25 years of discontinuing studies. In addition to car driving skills, BIRDS also conducted training on yoga for fitness, Karate for self defense and also the use of computers. I am very thankful to BIRDS especially Bro. Xaviour who was the motivating factor for my achievement.