Enabling women through collectives


Vol NO: VOL. 14, ISSUE 82,

"The past 20 years have seen the growth of grass root women’s active involvement, through programmes like the Mahila Samakhya (MS) in panchayati raj institutions (PRIs). The National Literacy Mission, 1988, launched to eradicate adult illiteracy in India, led to the creation of the MS. The over arching objective of the ongoing MS programme is education for the empowerment of women. It has identified several socio-cultural and economic factors that inhibited women’s access to knowledge, information, education, mobility, and justice—complex factors that could not be tackled without the participation of women themselves. The principal strategy was to ensure this participation through mobilising and organising women into a sangh (collective)—a radical departure from conventional educational programmes at the time. Unlike traditional literacy programmes, learning was led by women, rather than trainers providing inputs. The mahila sangh, an independent collective of 30 to 50 women constituted at the village level is the nodal point of all activities within the MS. It provides a space for women to meet and begin articulating and negotiating their needs through collective action. Now, the sangh have expan

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    Best Practices Foundation

    A programme of the Ministry of Human Resource Development in ten states has built a large, robust base of women’s collectives over the years to empower women and adolescent girls through education.

    These collectives of women at the village level are networked into federations at the cluster, block and often at district levels. Contributed by Best Practices Foundation, Bangalore, India.

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