My experience of working among rural women in Tamilnadu, be it dalit, adivasi or fisher, goes as long as 1981. In all these years, I find that women have allowed me to provide them empowerment education and have successfully emerged from the clutches of the partriarchal dominance, without at the same time, letting the male members realise that it is becoming a threat. I cannot claim that me or my organisation has one hundred percent fool proof methods, as we have seen in some cases, the most progressive men have turned 180 degree and become stumbling blocks. The challenges are actually more from outside the community. Let me explain.The companies that are coming up recently, the new NGO (with or without the support of govt funds) who are thrusting the model of so called self help groups (SHG) which are nothing but groups to seek loans and ensure repayment, are becoming de empowering process. The companies in the name of providing job for women, send vehicles far and wide to fetch them. There is some job, which does not expect rural women to anymore put their hands into the soil. This attracts them. They can now go dressed decently like everyone else and stay so. But the disadvantages are very many. They work in unhealthy conditions and can be thrown out at any time. They do not have right to unionize. And there are very many reported sexual harassments, which they cannot speak of, lest they loose their job. I want my sisters in Puslewire group to help in the following way. Please tell the funding agencies you know and to whom you could talk of, that they shall not support local NGO who promote women's self help group, without really having a component that would ensure women's empowerment process inbuilt. Please tell your friends to ask your governments to be doubly sure of work standards from companies in developing countries whether they have safety and security for the women workers. In other words demand a gender certification to be introduced, as child labour free certification is promoted now. And tell everyone how it is important to support women run organisations where women have a say in the decision making at all levels.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Empowerment and Web 2.0.