Beginning Situation of the area: 

Women in the rural areas of Odisha consistently face marginalisation in access and control over resources, particularly Adivasi and Dalit women. Various developmental projects along with dominant socio-cultural, economic and societal changes have eroded the spaces that these indigenous women enjoyed within the social settings. Women being victimised by structural, societal and socio-political exclusion, marginalisation, isolation, poverty, and violence are systematically and strategically pushed to the fringes either as individuals or groups. Caste, class, ethnicity and other identities easily align with the gender disparity based on the value chain of several scriptures of religions. These separate or cuts them off from the rest of the society and therefore their participation is least counted.

After a brief intervention in grassroot governance through people’s collective, we realized to create spaces for Adivasi and Dalit Women, wherein issues of governance and marginalization can be raised by separate women wing through collective participatory approach. 

A piloting on women federation was initiated in Hemgir and Sundergarh   wherein women leaders were identified from 50 villages covering 13 GPs and were trained on the following themes:

  • Basic constitutional rights
  • Gender
  • Government schemes and entitlements
  • Process and procedure of writing petitions or dealing with the administration. 

Challenges Faced: 

  • Patriarchal society and gender biased mindset prevents women and girls from playing an active part in society and decision-making process. 
  • Secondly, women and girls face unacceptable levels of discrimination and abuse.
  • Thirdly, women are key managers of natural resources and powerful agents of change but they cannot own it.
  • Women and nature’s contribution is recognised as invisible in the society.
  • Lastly the patriarchal society doesn’t allow the women and girls to come out of their homes and take the front-line leadership. The social norms prevent the women to take part of the major decision-making process and it’s a big loss for them.

Current Situation: Training and orientation of women leaders, have made them acquainted and confident about raising the governance issues with the administration. Therefore, women have started taking up water availability, MGNREGA work i.e. demand or payment issues, issues of eligible excluded households in Food Security etc. with the panchayat, block and district administration. The volumes of complaints and demand applications or letters has increased enormously, resulting in creating pressure on the block administration and making them deliver as per the people’s demand. Women at several instances through women groups have blocked the panchayat and block offices until their demands were addressed by the administration.

Looking at the positive impact of the women federation, Atmashakti initiated women federation in other districts of Odisha. The current status on Women Federation is:

  1. Total working Districts: 06
  2. Total Blocks: 18
  3. Total GPs: 133
  4. Total Villages covered: 1709
  5. Total working staff: 70

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