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A Case Study of THE ANDHRA PRADESH RURAL LIVELIHOODS PROJECT
Ours is a male dominated society and the plight of women continues to be grim. There is no dearth of rhetoric with regard to ameliorating conditions of women, but not much seems to be happening.
As a sharp contrast here is a success story that deals with the formation of Balika Sanghas with girls who are 14-18 years old. These Sanghas were set up to increase creativity and social consciousness among young women. The presence of such groups in every village is absolutely the need of the hour, especially as India is now younger than ever.
During the appraisal of the watershed implementation programme in Jalakanur village of Midthur mandal in Kurnool district, the acute problems faced by girl-children came to the surface. Child marriage is still a norm. Women are neglected and backward. They suffer psychological stress, are illiterate and not
gainfully employed. The social mobiliser initially formed two Balika Sanghas with 10-15 members
each. The two Sanghas opened accounts in a local bank and members started to save Rs.30 a month.
Along with being encouraged to save, the members were trained and taken on visits to give them an exposure to different things. These measures enhanced their skills and learning. The young members of the Balika Sanghas spearheaded the spread of awareness on critical issues among the members of the regular selfhelp groups. The young women’s enthusiasm and energy was thus channelised for a positive social cause.
Balika Sanghas members are very aware of the importance of issues such as health, forming self-help groups and participation in community and nation building. They also focus on:
If you educate a man, one person is educated, but if you educate a woman, a whole family is educated. Literacy of women is of paramount importance. Literate mothers can mould their households meaningfully. The Balika Sanghas focus on literacy of not only their groups but also other women’s groups.
Rural women are susceptible to disease and mental disorders. Many women are anaemic due to menstrual problems. Health awareness and child care are vital. Sangha members are educated about the importance of nutritious food and pre-natal care and their effect on long-term health, and they in turn teach other
Women of the village about these issues, thus contributing to the well-being of the community.
It is essential for all women to save money regularly. It enables them to deal with emergencies at home. It teaches them to manage a house economically. Members of the Balika Sanghas have saved money and learnt the utility and value of savings from a very early age. Each member saves a rupee per day.
The young women have also learnt tailoring, embroidery, nursing and how to use a computer and other skills that make them employable. The goal of the Balika Sanghas is to make women self-reliant by fighting for economic independence and against social evils.
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