Ms. Aruna Masarguppi
, a writer, journalist and a free-lance consultant for development organizations particularly in Andhra Pradesh
Ms. Lalita Missal a development activist with 17 years experience in working on issues of marginalization of dalit and tribal communities specifically focusing on women and girls
Ms. B. Rajamani an activist concerned with dalit issues and women’s entrepreneurship
Mrs. Suman Kumar a business woman promoting women’s entrepreneurship
Ms. Sandhya Reddy a leading entrepreneur in the field of bio-informatics
Nirnaya supports women’s empowerment of a varied but interlinked nature. It is Nirnaya’s belief that one enlightened and committed woman can set aglow a 1000 candles. Our mission therefore is to light these individual candles who will in turn bring light into the lives of many, and change the world for the better. Our parameters for support are:
- The grantees’ commitment to grassroots women’s empowerment
- They hail from the same/similar marginalized community
- They have an acceptance from the community among whom they work
- Their leadership / motivation capabilities are high
- Their mission is to bring in social justice, whereby women are respected and cherish the dignity, which is the birthright of every human being
- Their belief that collective strength and shared values are instrumental in bringing about this change
- Their ability to translate this belief into reality
Case Study I
The Syeda Faiz Tailoring Training Institute is around 10 years old but as its name indicates, it was started with the sole purpose of the founder, Syeda Faizunnisa who had tailoring and zardosi embroidery skills sharing the same with a few more women and thus making them capable of earning a modest income from within their homes. She was doing this at a small level by taking up some government sponsored programmes. This was till Nirnaya started supporting it.
Faizunnisa had a good reputation with the local people and with their never say die spirit, she held an ‘iftar’ party and through her interactions with the community women at the first such party gained insights based on which she chalked out her strategy. Her strategy was in making inroads into the economically deprived communities who are also socially excluded, through skill building and enhancement with a mixed batch of trainees open to Muslim, Christian, dalit, backward caste and upper caste Hindus. She spent the first eight months mobilizing and organizing women. At the end of eight months Nirnaya stepped up the support by financing the costs of a training center each for embroidery and tailoring in areas selected by her. In the beginning there was pressure on her from local leaders to open separate centers for upper caste Hindus where some backward caste women also come. The two centers – one for garment making and the other for zardosi embroidery churned out 20 young skilled / semi skilled young women from each six month course. Simultaneously Faizunnisa built up a good rapport with the local government machinery. As a follow up to the successful completion of the training she ensured that all the candidates, with her support, set up their own small home based units or got employment in an alternate unit, thereby ensuring that each of them got an income on a daily basis. The positive outcome of this initiative got her recognition oat the district level both with the government and the local banks. Nirnaya stepped up its support for additional training centers and also a short-term revolving fund for providing capable and needy women to set up or step up micro enterprises. In March 2005 Faizunnisa organized the first Women’s Day meeting where 500 women gathered. A one-day awareness camp on women’s issues followed up by training of barefoot paralegal workers. The one-day awareness camp, which was planned for 100 women, was attended by 300 women from all the communities in the conference hall of a prominent hotel, where, for the first time, all the women from different communities sat together and the Muslim women were counseled into removing their veils and having lunch. The paralegal training following close on the heels of this camp created an unexpected response from the entire Kurnool city.
The paralegal workers comprising of four women from the Hindu community and two from the Muslim community cater not only to the needs of women suffering primarily from domestic violence and exploitation, but also rise to the occasion when there is a community need – like the unexpected floods in July 2007. Irrespective of which community a person or family belonged to the team not only extended support, but also brought together on one platform three religious heads – the maulvi, the temple priest and church priest. For a Muslim woman observing purdah this was no mean achievement.
Case Study II
Munni Hembrom and her team have been supported by Nirnaya for carrying out
empowerment of marginalized Santhali women in remote Dumka district of Jharkhand state for three successive years and it has been one success story after another. The focal point is the SHG. As a result of the formation of SHGs, capacity building of the same and training the community as a whole has got the members start cultivating their own fields and the profit has reduced the community’s financial constraints considerably. The SHG women conduct regular meetings to discuss their problems and to find solutions. Some of them are quite unique. The village committee has both men and women and is responsible for conflict resolution and ensuring outreach of government programs. Women involve themselves in the decision making process, contrary to what the situation was in the past. The struggle is for women’s human rights. There is also a network for the campaign for tribal women’s land rights and Munni is in the forefront.