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GENDER JUSTICE AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT


Despite the fact that women in developing countries provide nearly 70 percent of the agricultural labor, they continue to account for over 60 percent of the world’s hungry. Lack of gender equality limits a woman farmer’s access to agricultural inputs, credit services and a market to sell her products. These constraints lead to lower crop yields, produce sold at a lower price and, ultimately, continued poverty and hunger for her and her children. Gender-equal access to these agriculture resources could increase the average woman farmer’s crop yields by 20-30 percent.

Given the opportunity to generate and control an income, women routinely invest significant portions of their income in food, healthcare and education for their families. Unfortunately, at the moment, the majority of women in developing countries lack economic power, resulting in a higher rate of girls kept out of school, minimal access to basic health care, increased HIV/AIDS prevalence and higher maternal mortality rates. Yet women continue to bear almost all responsibility for meeting the basic needs of the family.

A proven way to overcome many systematic barriers to a woman’s success has been increased participation by women in local, regional and national legislation as empowered change agents. In just 10 years, the amount of women holding seats in houses of national parliament in South Asia rose from seven to 18 percent. But a global goal of equal representation is still a long way off, with only one woman for every four men in parliamentary houses.

After long years of working in the field of women empowerment DISA recognizes the national gender imbalance of power and responsibility and empowers women to build their capacity and self-reliance as a way of overcoming obstacles. DISA firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. Women’s Leadership Workshops, Women’s Empowerment Programms and specialized animator trainings aims to empower women to seek positions of power and train all of our partners, women and men, to take responsibility for improving lives in their communities.

DISA joins hands with NAI DISHA MAHILA SAMITI, a registered society in promoting Gender Justice and Women Empowerment issues. There are 84 Village Level Associations with 1402 members and 30 Gram Panchayat Level Committees having 1402 members. Representatives are elected to form 3 Block Level Women Committees at Basti Sadar, Harraiya and Mithaval Blocks with 815 leaders and they are federated at Central Level to form the Nai Disha Mahila Samiti. The Block Level and Central Level Committees have quarterly review and planning meetings whereas the Gram Panchayat Level Committees meet once in two months. Village level Associations have their meetings every month for review and planning for social actions for rights and entitlements. Gram Panchayat level Associations function as broad Community Based Organizations (CBOs). Various collective actions were taken by women to highlight their demands for justice, equity and access to resources. They had many awareness rallies, public meetings, wall writings, common celebrations and cultural programs. They celebrated International Women’s Day at Asnar Village in Mithaval Block and had their annual gathering. On the day they focused on the themes on Gender Equity and rights of Girl Children.

Careful Planning, Demonstration at Block, Got Money for Toilet.

In India, it is a herculean task for common man to get the benefit of government schemes. The women of poor families of Kaidholiya Lala Village of Bahadarpur are the perfect example of these difficulties. Authorities underestimated the power of women and poor to raise their voicea] against injustice. But they can raise their voice and demand justice if they know about their rights.

Associated with this organisation Nai Disha Mahila Samiti women are regularly making efforts for social development. In the meeting, they realised that toilets were necessary in the village. The women folk of the village, in a group, met the concerned authorities of the block. Seeing that nothing is being done they staged a demonstration.

The authorities then understood the seriousness of the issue, especially when the united women became a force, then they have allotted money to 22 families to build toilets. Same result occurred in many other villages. People are now using the toilets. The women are also happy and felt secured with the new strength they got by joining Nai Disha Mahila Samiti.

Dealer Suspended, Ration Distribution System Rectified

The poor of the village largely depend the public distribution system like ration shop where they will get the food grain cheaply. But they are exploited by the ration dealers by not giving them proper quantity of grain. Most often these dealers sell the grain in open market and make huge profit.

A ration dealer from Rajswa village of Lahauria, Tilakpur gram Panchayat, Vikashkhand Kaptangunj, was not distributing ration to the people on a regular basis. If distributed, he unnecessarily charged excess amount from the people. Besides this, he also maintained a false record in the card even for those months in which no ration was distributed to the people.

Getting fed up with this sort of unfair work, the women lodged a complaint against him to BDO and other officers too. But nothing happened. Finally, the women moved to DM with the complaint. The DM took it seriously and began investigation. In the investigation, the dealer was found to guilty. He got suspended and the job was offered to some other person. Now the women as well as the people living in the village are getting ration timely.

Women Showed Courage, Brick Road constructed

The roads, especially in the interior villages of India, are a pitiful sight to see. Here is an example of ' If there is a will, there is a way'.

Nai Disha Mahila Samiti was formed under the guidance of DISA organisation in a village of Kaphtangunj Block. There are 84 women members associated with this. They raised the issue of the pathetic condition of the alley starting from the house of Jhanmati up to the house of Ramapati in the meeting organised by Nai Disha Mahila Samiti.

This alley is filled with water in rainy season, children going along this path are slipped and get injured, and even it is much difficult for the grownup to walk along. After the discussion the women decided to contact the village Pradhan to get the road brick laid. The responsibility to meet the pradhan was given to Sumitra Devi and Rajkumari who are the office bearers of the organisation. But the village Pradhan, as usual to any such demand, showed the least interest.

One day during the rainy season women of the area got together went to his house and showed the pitiful condition of the road. Seeing the collective force of the women the Village Pradhan agreed to construct a brick laid path. After ten days when the rain got over, construction work started and the women themselves worked under MNREGA. The villagers praised the women for their wonderful work.