Building women’s leadership, voice, and participation at grassroots level.
Overview of the Grant
SAWF leveraged its own funds against the money raised through Catapult and was able to support the initiatives of a women’s rights group (details below) in Odisha, India with a grant of $5430. Given the current context where resources, especially for women’s rights work, are limited, collaborating with other funds and platforms ensures strategic and effective utilisation of the resources. Hence, even though small, this was a critical grant which will have a larger and substantive impact on the ground in furthering women’s human rights.
About the Group
National Alliance of Women Organisation, Odisha, formed in 1996, focuses on 4 critical areas of concern affecting women: poverty and livelihood, political participation and leadership, human rights violations, and health rights. NAWO functions as a network building and advocacy group having its membership base in all districts of Odisha. Currently, it has 114 organizational members and 120 individual members including, individual activists, Professionals, grass root women, SHG group, women’s organizations etc. NAWO has been working extensively for many years to ensure and visualize women’s voices and participation in political spaces and decision-making process. They consider women’s leadership and effective participation in local governance as a key strategy to address gender inequalities and violence against women at the grassroots level.
Direct Constituency for the Intervention
With the support from SAWF and Catapult, NAWO will be enhancing capacities of 1050 elected women’s representatives in local councils in different parts of state of Odisha to respond more effectively to the needs of the woman in the rural communities and strengthen the day to day local governance processes.
NAWO is based is the Indian state of Odisha and ranks extremely low on the Human Development Index and high on poverty incidence. The worst affected are women from rural areas, especially from the minority communities (Dalit and Indigenous).
While the Indian government has raised reservations for women in all tiers of the local governance system (Panchayati Raj System) from 33 to at least 50%; the participation and leadership of women continues to be very low. This is largely due to the prevailing violent, feudal, caste and patriarchal structures that operate on the ground which continuously deny women their rights. In addition, women in rural communities, especially in states like Odisha, have limited or no access to education, information, and exposure. Those who managed to fight against these odds and got elected as members and sarpanchas (chief of local council) face several institutional and social barriers including physical and sexual violence in the public and domestic spheres.
Through this project, NAWO will be strengthening the leadership capacities of the Elected Women’s Panchayat Representatives (EWPRs). Simultaneously, it will strengthen their organisation in 15 districts of Odisha under the banner of SWORA (State Women Panchayat Representative Association), a state level network of EWPRs to put at centre the voices of marginalised and vulnerable women claiming for their rights and justice. By way of conducting training workshops, disseminating relevant IEC (information, education and communication), organisation state and district level conventions, all within the framework of a rights-based approach, NAWO will be ensuring that elected women leaders have access to spaces and positions at the grassroots level to create transformative and sustainable solutions that impact them positively.
The Issue: Building women’s leadership, voice, and participation at grassroots level.
Why it matters: Women have often been kept out of decision-making processes within families and communities. As citizens and claimants with equal rights, participation at local governance level will put them in a stronger position to create transformative and sustainable solutions that impact them positively.
How we create change: We provide financial support to women-led initiatives in the region that engage with women from communities at grassroots level, to visibilise their voices, strengthen their decision-making and leadership capacities; build awareness and understanding on feminist principles; support spaces for exchange and learning at local, regional and national level.
South Asian Women's Fund: SAWF is a regional women's Fund, committed to supporting women-led interventions to enhance and strengthen access to women's human rights and countering violations thereof. It has worked closely with partners to support human rights in the context of conflict, identity, socio-economic deprivations and in relation to violence against women. In its present phase, it is committed to supporting the emergence of a regional human rights movement, which would address national and regional concerns. Its work is focused on developing a regional mandate that is informed by national realities, and is responsive to the rights and needs of the individual woman. The organization, currently works in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Established in 2004, SAWF is a young and dynamic organization. In a short period of time it has implemented over 136 projects at the sub-national level in the region, ensuring human rights for a cross-section of women.