Mahila Samakhya Karnataka
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Determine your own destiny
Right Schooling The Mahila Shikshana Kendra Experience

Mahila Samakhya Karnataka (MSKn) believes in using education as a platform for women’s empowerment. The Mahila Shikshana Kendra (MS Kendra) was started in the socially and economically backward districts in Karnataka where overall female literacy and education levels are low. It is a special initiative of the MS programme which addresses the need for education among the rural poor women and girls who have been deprived of education due to patriarchal controls, early marriage, or poverty. They are identified and encouraged to enrol in the MS Kendras

The MS Kendras have a dual focus. At one level, the effort is to provide the students with formal education through a residential bridge course designed to enable them to join mainstream education and complete the school leaving examination..

 

At another level, the focus is on introducing the students to concepts such as gender and equality which inculcate in the young women a spirit of self-reliance and independence. This combination of education with empowerment is designed to groom, nurture and develop a cadre of young women who are equipped with the rare balance of ‘Right Schooling’.

The first MS Kendras were started in 1992 in Bijapur district with 3 women and 10 girls and in Mysore with 30 girls from tribal communities, those who had been through the NFE programmes, and school drop outs.

In the second phase which commenced in 2007, kendras were opened in Koppal, and Chamarajnagar and re-opened in Mysore in 2008.

Kendras in Bijapur, Chamarajnagar, Mysore and Koppal districts have been functioning well. In 2010, there are 122 children in the kendras in these four districts. MS Kendra has a range of activities for the holistic development of girl children, including:

  • Gender awareness concepts.
  • Parihara Bodhane or remedial teaching, a special course for slow learners.
  • Life skills training.
  • Vocational training.
  • Computer training.
  • Half yearly parents’ meeting to update them
    on their ward’s progress.
  • Participation in national and regional festivals.
  • Career counselling.

At the Shikshana Kendra, each student is assessed and the curriculum is worked out based on her individual achievement level. Text books, uniforms and hostel facilities are provided to each student to ensure a proper learning environment. While following the general syllabus of the Karnataka SSLC Board, MS Kendra encourages holistic development through several extra-curricular activities such as:

  • Self-defence training through karate.
  • Yoga for physical endurance.
  • Personality development training.
  • Exposure visits to service providers, places of historical interest, educational tours.
  • Training in art, culture and drama.
  • Sports.

STRENGTHS

  • Girls from MS Kendras are helping to strengthen the sanghas and their programmes.
  • MS Kendra has provided an opportunity and motivation for girls from socially backward families to be educated.
  • MS Kendra has helped a number of girls to become confident and self-reliant.
  • Slow learners have been encouraged to learn and join mainstream education through non-formal education.
  • MS Kendras have provided a variety of skills including self-protection and life skills along with the regular academic curriculum.
  • MS Kendra has given girls information on rights, health and gender equality.
  • Girls have broken stereotypes and entered male dominated domains, taking up occupations and setting examples to other girls in their village.

CHALLENGES

Maintaining a regular inflow of girls to MS Kendras is an operational difficulty. Sending girls away from home requires building awareness in their families - a process that is slow and time consuming.

Ensuring that the holistic approach of the complete education package (academic, vocational, gender and other related subjects such as rights, health, personality development, and life skills training) is not in any way diluted or diverted in any aspect and needs to be constantly monitored.

As a part of the social development process, the Kendra inputs need to address caste issues and ensure that they are not allowed to creep into the functioning of the kendras.

Adolescence and sexuality, food habits, and growing up issues surface periodically and need sensitive handling by the staff. There is a dearth of experienced teaching staff equipped to teach specialised subjects (Science, Maths and Hindi) in the kendras at the district level.

The infrastructure is inadequate to house the MS Kendras in most districts.

There are procedural problems with getting admission into mainstream institutions for girls who pass the Class X exams.

Girls exposed to MS Kendras sometimes find it difficult to readjust in their village environments and work within more traditional structures. Their awareness of new concepts develops new aspirations and this sometimes creates internal conflicts for them. Yet there are instances where the girls have addressed these challenges and broken stereotypes.

There is no mechanism to conduct follow-up on girls who have left MS Kendra and records are not available on their present status.

FUTURE PLANS

  • Expansion of MS Kendras in the new districts of MS Karnataka.
  • Running the MS Kendras under Federations.
  • Including innovative types of life skills like computer courses, language courses.
  • Developing full fledged laboratories and libraries.
  • Introducing vocational training courses that do not reinforce gender stereotype and break the gender barriers.
  • Imparting knowledge on the folk arts, culture and script.

The Mahila Shikshana Kendras have established a fairly robust network with the Health Department, Education Department, Department of Agriculture and the Nehru Youth Centre. It is envisioned that these linkages would be strengthened to further the outreach of the Kendras, including equipping them with additional skills, in order that the institution is able to provide a comprehensive package to its students.

With this vision the hope is that these students would be the change agents in their communities and bring in a mood of optimism and justice through the strength of an empowered critical mass of young women educated through Right Schooling.

 

UNITED WE STAND

Women’s Federation Supported by Mahila Samakhya Karnataka

The federation is defined as a process to mobilise rural poor women, especially the most marginalised, and enable them to identify their needs, build women’s capacities to collectively raise their voice to exercise their rights and empower them towards achieving equality. The federation’s objective is to create a mass rural women’s movement to demand, advocate and influence change in practice and policy to protect women’s rights.

The sangha women have defined the federation as a ‘vedike’ (platform or forum) for rural women. Their interests are represented by the Executive Committee, (EC) whom they have nominated to be their voices from the grassroots. The EC members who are selected from the larger group are representative leaders who congregate to deliberate on the issues emerging from their villages, identify necessary action, strategise, agitate, facilitate and ensure access to justice and protection of women’s rights to achieve social, economic and political equality.

The General Body meeting of the federation EC members is held annually for the presentation of the annual report, review of the progress of the federation and selection of new EC members.

CRITERIA FOR THE FORMATION OF A FEDERATION

The process of federating the sanghas usually started after the sanghas had reached a certain level of maturity and self sufficiency. A set of criteria was drawn up to serve as a guideline to initiate a process for the sanghas to federate at the taluka level. These criteria are:

  • The majority of the sanghas have a clear gender perspective and take up social issues independently.
  • All the six committees are functioning effectively.
  • Sanghas address issues related to education, health, governance, violence against women, and economic activities while working along with and seeking the cooperation of the community
  • Networking and alliance building, active participation in gram sabhas, interaction with schools, PHCs, panchayats, etc. is evident
  • Weak sanghas are being strengthened

It usually takes about three to five years for the sanghas in a new block to meet these criteria. When a sufficient number of villages have been covered and the sanghas have conceptual clarity, the process of federating the sanghas is initiated.

OBJECTIVES OF THE FEDERATION
Some of the main objectives of the federation are:

  • To evolve as an independent women’s mass-based organisation, with a strong women’s and gender rights perspective.
  • To develop into a rural knowledge base and information centre.
  • To be recognised as a rural women’s forum at the taluk level that addresses issues that
    remain unresolved at the village level.
  • To emerge as a powerful taluk level forum with strong mobilisation capacity to bear pressure on and influence women’s agendas, similar to the role that sanghas play at the village level.
  • To provide certain identified services and capacity building to women that contribute to the strengthening of the movement towards women’s equality
  • Functions of the Executive Committee of the federation

On an average, each federation has between 9-13 EC members who are responsible for ensuring proper implementation of activities. Some of their key tasks are:

  • Monitoring and review of the sangha meetings and issue based committee meetings.
  • Identifying village level needs and planning and executing programmes accordingly.
  • Rejuvenating weaker sanghas and forming new ones.
  • Networking with other sanghas, organisations and departments at the block level.
  • Forming issue-based committees under the federation to take up the issues in the six
    areas identified at the sangha level.
  • Disseminating information, organising awareness generation programmes and capacity building training programmes.
  • Facilitating the mobilisation of funds through sangha membership fees and serving as
    resource persons.
  • Establishing bank linkages for EDP activities taken up at the sangha level.
  • Influencing change.

Strong and articulate sangha women are EC members. Some of these women are elected panchayat leaders. Being better informed than many of their counterparts, these women have an edge over the others in being able to push the women’s agenda on to the table for discussion.  Through the federation, several issues have been taken up for advocacy campaigns to influence policy change. Some noteworthy examples:

Panchayat Hakkotthaya Andolana’, a movement to protest against a proposed amendment to the Panchayat Raj Act which would divest the gram panchayat and the village community of its right to select beneficiaries under government schemes.  This widespread action helped women to understand the power of lobbying and advocating for their rights. 

Pushing for the operationalisation of Social Justice Committees in gram panchatays ‘Jana Aroghya Andolana’, a movement for better health services.

  • Signature campaign to push for the implementation of the PWDV Act.
  • Signature campaign for retaining SDMC at village level.
  • Tribal movement for land rights.
  • Campaign against alcohol and related violence.
  • Campaign and lobbying with the state government to retain the ban on sale of arrack.
  • Campaign against early marriage for girls.

The federation is gradually gaining recognition as a force to be reckoned with. For instance, initiatives such as the Hakkotthaya Andolana and the campaign to stop child marriage has been launched by the sangha women at the village level and spread horizontally across taluks and moved upwards to the district level, through convergence and collective thrust.

STRENGTHS

The activities of the federation are based and developed on the needs and demands of women which make the activities well grounded; not thrust down from above.  Sanghas bring to the federation issues that are beyond the capacity of the local sangha to handle. This enables the federation to look at the larger issues and picture.

Gender perspective and a rights based approach make the federation an effective change agent. The federation is well trained and educated by the MSK team to look at issues through a gendered lens.

Giving priority to women’s issues, girl child education, and social issues affecting women’s lives makes the federation a vibrant entity, strongly rooted among women in the context of challenging social practices, violence against women, and other felt realities which are of
immediate concern for women and girls.

Federation members are encouraged to closely monitor activities in their village sanghas, enabling them to evolve appropriate strategies for implementation of planned activities.  Good linkages, networking with government epartments, local institutions, and other collectives enables the federation to help its members gain access to the benefits of development programmes.

The federation’s activities including its campaigns, actions and meetings are well documented by the women as this improves their articulation, literacy and writing skills.  In order to be sustainable, the federation has undertaken a strong membership drive and effort to mobilise resources.

Annual rotation of leadership in EC has inculcated democratic functioning and developed a large leadership base.

The federation involves its members in the women’s movement and social campaigns such as the attempt to amend the PRI Act to curtail the powers of the gram panchayat, campaigns against alcohol and early marriage for girls.

Opportunities for capacity building and upward mobility have been provided by the federation to sangha women to become EC members and resource persons for other women’s collectives and other community based organisations.  This has not only enabled personal growth but in the process enabled the federation to emerge as a resource organisation.

The federation is not vulnerable to political pressure, as its huge numbers provide it with the clout to resist any such pressure, and also because it is not affiliated to any political party or group.

Committees addressing specific issues such as health, education, and other areas and alternative mechanisms of conflict resolution such as Nari Adalats have enabled women to understand issues and explore solutions.

Groups and individual members have received recognition for their achievements and many members are on village level committees such as SDMC, Social Justice Committee, work as Asha, Arogya Sakhi, or cooks at MDM, etc.

In order to be sustainable the federations are exploring income generation activities through entrepreneurial drives such as preparation and sale of herbal medicine, soap, phenyl, etc. and supplying pass books to member sanghas, which also enable women to get the passbooks at a cheaper price.

CHALLENGES

  • While the federation has these several strengths, it also faces many challenges.
  • Illiteracy among sangha women which affects capacity building and thereby sustainability. 
  • Motivating and enabling sangha women to give adequate time to the sanghas, as they are burdened with household and other responsibilities.
  • Enhancing awareness of democratic and collective functioning, leadership, transparency and accountability in sanghas and the federation in order to make the federations impervious to attempts to dominate them from within or without, misuse of their positions by those in power and strengthening federations to counter any political pressure brought on them.
  • Mobilising financial resources or finding sources of income for federations which is critical for their sustainability and equipping EC members to run the federations independently, including their financial management. 
  • Equipping federations with independent infrastructure such as offices in order to facilitate meetings and activities.
  • Recognition of the federation as an independent entity to enable speedy registration.

The need to expand is inevitable, but in the expansion and replication of this process in new villages, talukas and districts, the federation, along with the MSK team will need to equip itself to face a new environment and grapple with new forms of violence, discrimination, etc. in the social, economic and political arena.

FUTURE PLANS

Over the last two decades, the Mahila Samakhya Karnataka has helped in developing fairly robust federations. It is critical for the MSK team to fully invest in these federations to make them independently functioning entities carrying on the work of MSK over the next five to ten years. The federations will then be responsible to form sanghas, capacitate them, monitor them and perform the tasks that the MSKn functionaries have been performing so far.

However, this is not to suggest that MSK completely cuts away from the federations. MSK would undergo a role transformation, from being the direct facilitator to that of providing knowledge and building a pool of trainers among the federation members - a task that has already begun. MSK will support the federations from a distance in order to enable the federations learn to handle issues independently. It will provide guidance to federations at their request, depending on their need. Only then can the vision of MSK to create a mass of empowered women become a reality. A truly empowered federation is a stepping stone to achieving that objective.

“Grassroots women in different corners of the country, in cities, towns and villages, have mobilised into ‘sanghas’ or ‘samoohs’ through which they have developed a political and personal agenda for change, and the collective strength and creative power to move their agendas forward.” This comment by Srilatha  Batliwala, one of the chief architects of MSKn, perhaps sums up the essence of the federation.

GATEWAY TO JUSTICE


The Nari Adalat’s Of Karnataka: A Grassroots Level Initiative By Women, For Women.

Let’s look at the instance of a rural illiterate woman from a poor household who has been physically abused, thrown out of her house, and denied access to any benefits that are rightfully hers. What options does she have?

  • Where could she go when beaten by her spouse?
  • How could she seek justice when she was thrown out of her home?
  • What could she do when her husband took a second wife?
  • Whom could she approach when she was subjected to violence?
  • What could she do when she was deprived of her right to property?

Experience in rural Karnataka has time and again demonstrated that the chances of a woman getting justice and actualising her rights through the mainstream judiciary systems were minimal. Even the existing alternatives to the mainstream legal system - the Jati Panchayat, Nyaya Panchayat or Koota, which are the traditional systems of conflict resolution - have seldom been able to support the rights of women. Issues concerning marital disputes, custody of children, desertion, and related matters, when referred to the Nyaya Panchayat or Koota which are male-dominated, receive judgments that are mostly adverse for women. While in theory, women can seek redress in these fora, the reality is that these fora are not very helpful for women as the panchayat members are always men, often without a gender perspective.

Women, by practice, are not allowed to serve on these bodies. Therefore, women have remained helpless and restricted to the confines of their homes with no voice, no power, and

low self-esteem. The need for an alternative forum for justice for women was seen as imperative by the sangha members.

THE INCEPTION

The women in the Mahila Samakhya Karnataka (MSKn) programme debated these problems and issues extensively in the sanghas. Legal literacy was identified as one of the key approaches to the process of enhancing women’s awareness of issues that impact their lives. However, they still did not have answers to the question of violence and discrimination faced by women.

In 1999, almost a decade after the sangha women had begun to address critical issues that impact their lives, efforts to set up an alternative dispute resolution mechanism were initiated.  This resulted from an exposure trip to Gujarat, where women from the MS programme in Karnataka were introduced to the Gujarat Mahila Samakhya experience of Nari Adalats (NAs), a non-formal dispute resolution mechanism.

Inspired by the idea, the women decided to set up similar institutional mechanisms in Karnataka. In order to help start the process, resource persons from MS Gujarat visited Koppal district and  conducted a four-day workshop on Nari Adalats in their state. The first NA in Karnataka was set up in Gulbarga in 1999.  Sangha members who evinced an interest in learning about laws affecting women were inducted into the active functioning of the NA. Most of them happened to be members of the Legal Committees.

OBJECTIVES

The Nari Adalat is a grassroots initiative of the sangha women of Mahila Samakhya responding to the need for quick and effective dispute resolution and establishment of women’s rights.  The NA, along with the other community organisations such as the sangha and federation, form the Non-Formal  Dispute Resolution Mechanism. This mechanism is a forum for redress and conflict resolution that comprises a network of organisations that provides speedy, accessible and affordable legal services, advice and support to poor rural women. A time and space is created for women to be heard and their issues addressed from their point of view.

THE PROCESS

Any conflict situation is first taken up at the regular meeting of the sangha by the Legal Committee. In many cases, the sangha takes up the issue suo moto, or if it is alerted by the helpline at the counselling centres. If the Legal Committee of the sangha cannot resolve the problem, the complaint is taken to the members of the federation’s Executive Committee at its monthly meeting. The Legal Committee of the federation takes up the issue. If the federation is unable to resolve the issue, the problem is handed over to either the Nari Adalat or the Social Justice Committee of the Gram Panchayat (GP). If no solution is found at any of these fora, the case is placed for hearing at the Panchayat meeting. However, this is not necessarily the order followed in every case as there is no strict hierarchy among the institutions. 

In the Nari Adalats, the focus is on discussing the issue at hand with both parties, talking things through, smoothing things over or helping to change a viewpoint through peer support. This method is an example of positive persuasion through discussion but also through shaming and the fear of embarrassment and social censure when a dispute is exposed to the larger community. This approach has proved to be effective.

STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF THE NARI ADALAT

The Nari Adalats function under the aegis of the federations, which are representative bodies at the taluka level. Each NA comprises about 20 members and meets once a month. The members, who are experienced and well informed, examine each case closely and hold extensive discussions among themselves and with the parties involved, before they arrive at a judgment by consensus based on principles of justice.

For each case the NAs document and collect evidence and also mediate and negotiate. They provide psychological support and counselling to women in distress. After the verdict they follow up on each case. 

NAs also work as pressure groups, seeking support from government and NGOs wherever necessary. If there is a case they cannot solve themselves, they seek support from the community, the police and court depending on the nature of the case.  The types of cases taken up by the NAs are varied, though most are to do with domestic violence or marital conflict.  NAs do not take up criminal cases such as murder. All cases they take on are women centred and the complainant has to be a woman. It is noteworthy that the NAs are not limited to taking up cases of their sangha members alone. They also take up cases which are brought to the sangha by non-sangha women.

Information about the NAs is spread through Mahila Samakhya’s awareness building camps, kala jathas and meetings attended by the MSKn team to enable a larger number of women to seek the support of the NAs.

In order to ensure sustainability, the older NAs have begun to levy a nominal fee. This is collected in the presence of all NA members and others present at the meeting. Receipts are also given for the fees received and a separate bank account is maintained under the federation.

CAPACITY BUILDING

Based in the sanghas, Nari Adalats have their roots in the village. Women in the sanghas are selected for the Legal Committees based on their interests and capabilities.  Women from the sanghas who are able, articulate, skilled in problem solving and conflict resolution, have leadership qualities, mobility, self-confidence and an interest in dealing with legal issues are selected as members of the NAs.

Members have been trained in the functioning of the NAs and provided with basic legal information such as different marriage customs, personal laws, divorce, livelihood, dowry, property issues, child marriage, women’s rights, etc. Periodically, NA members are given updates on the changing social scenario and new laws.

Other forms of capacity building include:

  • Exposure visits.
  • Para-legal training.
  • Mahiti Melas on legal issues for knowledge enhancement.
  • Experiential learning and inter-district sharing of experiences.
  • Periodic orientation and legal information update through training.

LINKAGES AND NETWORKING

The Nari Adalat members establish close linkages with the Gram Panchayat, the Social Justice Committee of the local Panchayat, counselling centres, the police and the courts in order to seek justice for women. They have also built links with government departments, NGOs, and individual activists and experts.

The NA is unique because it links the private to the public - the women and their families, a private sphere, to the sangha, a public space, where the case is presented. If at the first stage of redress and mediation at the sangha level the support of the Panchayat is required, this linkage is established. If the case cannot be resolved at the sangha level, the members take it to the NA which functions under the Maha Sangha, the taluka level federation.  Here the case is heard, and negotiations initiated, through a mediation and reconciliation process or seeking legal assistance or police assistance, depending on the case. The NA also establishes links with Government departments and other NGOs to provide redress to women.

In the year 2001, the Department of Women and Child Development (GoK) set up counselling centres under the Santwana project in each district in the State to offer support and assistance to women who were subjected to violence. Mahila Samakhya was invited by the GoK to run the centres in the MS districts; therefore the Nari Adalats had easy access and links to help them work together to provide justice to the women subjected to violence. In 2005, IFES provided financial assistance to MS to set up and run counselling centres for survivors of violence. Thus the Santwana centres were replaced by the Sindhuvani Mahila Salaha Kendras (SMSK).

To enable women to access justice, the SMSKs worked as legal counselling centres for women with a supporting network of lawyers and paralegals. The centres provided comprehensive assistance for women facing violence and offered legal advice, options for alternative dispute resolution, rehabilitation and referral services.

This initiative was aimed at providing services in rural areas of backward districts where the legal machinery was unaffordable, intimidating, gender insensitive, time-consuming and often inaccessible to poor women who needed a forum to seek redress and justice. The primary objectives of this project were to:

  • Create a forum in which women in distress could approach for legal guidance.
  • Counsel and provide psychological and emotional support to such women.
  • Strengthen the processes of delivery of justice to women.
  • Strengthen the alternate dispute resolution forum for women.
  • Build a network of institutions providing legal counsel to rural women.
  • Provide guidance to women for solving problems and resolving issues.

The work of the Sindhuvani counselling centres was designed to provide an extensive
reach, effective counselling and follow-up through:

  • Setting up counselling centres at the block level.
  • Capacity building of the counsellors and social workers.
  • Setting up mechanisms and tools for recording information.
  • Publicity to increase awareness among the public about the centres.
  • Networking with existing organisations and departments.
  • Providing referral support and linkages.

The Nari Adalats and the SMSK project together strengthened the justice delivery system for the rural women in the MSKn areas. However, as SMSK was a two-year project it came to a close in March 2008 and there was a vacuum in the process. Counselling, mediation and professional legal guidance were key components of support provided hitherto by SMSK. Though the NA members continue to provide counselling and mediation, it is limited.

MONITORING

The Nari Adalats work under the aegis of the federations and there is a complementary relationship between them. The MS team also works closely with the NA members to support them in their task of justice delivery. The regular monthly meetings of the NAs at the taluka level and quarterly meetings at the district level provide opportunities for sharing of experiences. Problem sharing during these meetings helps them to find solutions and resolve

cases. Strategies to overcome obstacles in solving cases are worked out with the support of the Executive Committee (EC) of the federation and the MS team. 

Thus, the MS, the NA and the EC of the federation are together able to monitor the process and functioning of NA and suggest course corrections, wherever needed.

OUTREACH

The Nari Adalats have been successful in spreading the message of their work, chiefly through women who have benefited from their support and have informed other women. NAs have connected with the communities, the Gram Panchayats and Social Justice Committees in their efforts to get justice and have often been successful in these initiatives.

The NAs have not limited themselves to only hearing cases of MS sangha women, but have reached out to non-sangha women who have approached them for help. The NA members have not been narrow in their approach of viewing the cases brought to them as women’s cases, but have tried to see them from a human rights perspective and as community concerns and sought the cooperation of the community in helping to resolve these cases.  Furthermore, the NAs worked in coordination with the Counselling Centres which was a happy blend of seeking counselling where necessary and using legal specialists if the case required judicial intervention.

The Nari Adalat model has had an empowering and capacitating effect on women. The women have come to view it as a forum where they can share their problems and receive solace and justice.  This alternate mechanism has helped to provide some form of justice to women.  However, they also seek justice through taking formal legal measures.  While the NAs have gained ground, it has not been an easy task. They have faced and continue to face several challenges. An analysis of their strengths, challenges and impact provides some interesting insights.

STRENGTHS

  • The Nari Adalat provides speedy, affordable justice through negotiation, mediation, reconciliation and out of court settlement.
  • The NA gives women a feeling of belonging as well as ownership of community issues.
  •  It is easily accessible to poor rural women and provides justice virtually at their doorstep.
  • The cases are viewed from the woman’s perspective and justice is delivered in a manner that provides maximum comfort to the woman, keeping the principles of justice in view.
  • The NA provides a patient hearing of the case.
  •  It speaks the legal language in the dialect of rural poor women and is therefore easily understood by the women.
  •  As the judges are women from their own communities, distressed women relate to them with comfort.
  • The NA is recognised as an effective forum by the community, local traditional and elected leaders and also by the enforcement agencies
  • It is an independent body that is resistant to pressures from local leaders, political parties or the bureaucracy
  • The NA has built partnerships with Gram Panchayats, police and other government agencies to resolve conflicts.
  • It ensures that processes and people remain unbiased and objective in their judgment.

Interestingly, the NA has achieved the status of a local court in the eyes of the local community. Even the police send cases to the NA as they are confident that distressed women will get an appropriate solution to their problems.

CHALLENGES

The Nari Adalat also faces several challenges. While most of these have been resolved informally, some issues continue to persist and are obstacles to be overcome.

Most NA members are illiterate, making them dependent on external support for Documentation.

All members do not have the same awareness and therefore their understanding of the issue varies, sometimes prolonging the process of justice

Certain cultural practices, e.g., the Devadasi practice or child marriage, can become a point of dissent among the NA members. Many times the differences over such practices have to be resolved before the verdict can be delivered.

As village women, NA members have the double burden of responsibilities at home and at the NA, which sometimes hinders their participation.

The pressure on women’s time limits their participation in the conflict resolution process.

NA members are also wage earners and many times are forced to absent themselves from NA proceedings rather than forego the daily wages.

NAs have had to face resistance and noncooperation from the community and the defending party; sometimes even from the police.

Applicants turning hostile or withdrawing their cases abruptly embarrasses the NAs and weakens their clout

The NAs are not yet economically viable

Political pressure and pressure from the community is a fact that NA members have to often deal with.

IMPACT

While the most obvious impact of the Nari Adalats is seen in the number of cases resolved, there are more subtle changes which are perhaps as important. For instance:

NA members have developed considerable leadership qualities, gaining respect both within their family and in the village. Some have been recognised and honoured publicly for delivery of justice.

The success of the NAs has encouraged women to form new sanghas in their villages.

Recognition has made it easier for NAs to network with other organisations in the area.

Women have learnt legal terminology, at the help desk set up in police stations and the
Counselling Centres.

NAs have been effective in stopping violence against women, and a large number of child marriages, and ensuring access to legal rights thus making rights a reality for many rural women which they have learnt to claim through the NAs.

NAs have instilled confidence among the poor communities and given more women the
courage to come forth and seek justice.

 NAs have helped the people to understand gender relations through their pronouncements.

FUTURE

 

As an institution, the Nari Adalat is viewed as an informal forum which addresses the problems of poor rural women and provides appropriate solutions.  An increasing number of women are confident that the NA will provide them with justice. With such expectations

from the women, and societal recognition, the NA looks forward to acquiring the status of Arbitrator under the Arbitration Act.

As a recognised Arbitrator, the NA would be able to function regularly and sustain itself by levying affordable fees. Though it would continue to work under the umbrella of the federation, it would emerge as a strong institution with a distinct responsibility and identity. Its presence would also strengthen cooperation with the local government departments and NGOs.

In its clearly defined role, the NA members will be able to assist all women approaching them to claim their rights and entitlements, and aspire to become the poor woman’s ‘Gateway to Justice!

A module on gender training for men and adolescent boys in Kannada was released in 2008.

In our male dominated society, women’s progress is hampered by gender, caste, class and various other forms of discrimination.  In theory women have rights, but in practice they are trapped in their roles as primary care takers.  For women’s progress and development it is necessary to involve men in women’s universe –as equal partners at home, involved fathers and as ambassadors of gender equality.

Mahila Samakhya works for empowerment of women and thereby create gender justice in the society. MS felt the need of sensitizing men along with women to create an enabling environment for women’s empowerment.   ‘Hosa Ale’ aims to educate men on the need for viewing women as equal partners in the advancement of family and the society.  It also aspires to help men identify that women and men have equal opportunities and rights in the society.

Annual Report 2009-2010

The annual report is presented in a form that captures the broad range of activities in which the rural women of Karnataka are involved.

Section one on village and cluster level activities reflects the work carried out by women and the changes they have brought in themselves, those around them, and in the community. The programme has expanded to reach greater numbers and has crossed the one lakh mark. This was made possible through adopting new strategies and taking up innovative programmes. MS.

Karnataka has for the first time attempted to converge with and bring under a single umbrella women from different programmes to build collective strength. The other new approaches include Gender Education for Men programme, developing sangha women as village level resource persons, and taking the Nari Adalat forum down to the cluster level.

Section Two focuses on the block level activities and federations. Apart from carrying out the regular activities federations have begun to move towards self reliance which is demonstrated by their ability to mobilize all the necessary resources to conduct the general body meetings by themselves.

Section Three and Four cover the district and state level programmes. MS Karnataka has focused on the documentation aspect and succeeded in bringing out documents on federations, Nari Adalats and Mahila Shikshana Kendras. The Kishori programme along with the KGBV, MSK and NPEGEL address both the formal and non-formal educational needs of adolescent girls.

Sinchana – Quarterly news letter of MSKn .

Sinchana shares some of the incidents and stories of struggle of the rural poor women who have later emerged as leaders, overcoming many obstacles they face, which also is an objective of Mahila Samakhya Karnataka

Other publications in Mahila Samakhya’s various areas of work include include:

HEALTH
Antharaladada Lokadalli (1996, 2003)
Magalu Doddavaladalu (1996)
HIV/AIDS (2003)
HIV/AIDS: the Challenge to Women’s Empowerment (CHARCA, 2002)
  ABOUT Mahila Samakhya Karnataka
Samakhya Samvada (1992)
Beacons in the Dark
New Brochure (2008)
LEGAL LITERACY
Kanoonu Thiluvalike (2000)
THE HARVEST
Suggi (1999)
EMPOWERMENT
Home and the World (2000)
SELF RELIANCE
Swawalambane (2000)
CHILD MARRIAGE
Aado Balege Ondu Kaaduva Koosu (1992) (Pictoral)
ANTI-LIQUOR
Horatada Haadhi (2002)
FOLK LORE, STORIES AND SONGS
Kathe Kathuva Kathe (2002)
Hadina Sanghrahane Handbook
HANDBOOKS FOR EWRs and Sangha Women
Pragati (2003)
Maitri (2004)
Prerana (2005)
ADOLESCENT GIRLS
Gelathi—Handbook on life skills for Kishoris (2007)
HERBAL MEDICINE
Hitila Akka
PANCHAYATI RAJ
Adarsha Adalitha (2000)
NEWSLETTER
Sanchari
GENDER
Kusuma (1998)
Lingatva (2000)
Hosila Dattuva Heggegalu (2000)
Samaanathay (2001)
Gender and Governance (2001)
Linga Mattu Sashakthate (1997)
LITERACY
Chiguru (1996)
Kaliyonu Bara (2000)
Sakshar Sangati (2002)
 
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