Women Empowerment Programs: 2007-08

Since inception NERSWN as an institution has been adequately sensitive to the issues relating to women. With an idea that drops of waters contributes to huge ocean, we have consistently been getting involved with the activities which we felt would help creating a equitable or gender free society. Realizing the fact that the issues of women empowerment certainly differs from context to context, we as an organization stuck to our own idea to begin with issues of income & employment of women thereby gradually touch upon various integral issues of women empowerment.

In 2006, we began to implement the project Empowering & Enhancing Women Vendors Occupation in Kokrajhar district with a small financial support from the local territorial council government. Though initially we planned to start in a bigger way in terms of its geographical coverage & activity due to the resource constraint, had to limit to Gossaigaon Bazar a small sub-divisional town in Kokrajhar. The project provides small credits at lowest possible interest to the poor cash capital strafed women vendors. It helps the women countryliquor seller to get away with the hazardous condition where they get exploited in many ways right from sexual violence to psychological torture. The project not only intended to help the country wine seller to get rid off the exploitative working condition, it also makes effort to help them find alternative livelihood options. Through the project the NERSWN workers had conducted many health screening camp for the vendors. We regularly conduct group session for enhancing vendors’ life skill. In the group sessions reflective discussion, interactive discussion, groups games for promoting psychosocial health, film screening for providing leisure in order to promote mental health are incorporated. Skill enhancement training on accounting, bookkeeping and healthy business practices are also organized. The team working for the project makes their best effort to inculcate the habit of savings among the women vendors. As, women are mostly hails from rural areas they do not have any relation with the banks. Thus, we facilitate them for opening bank account and save their money so that they do not have to be dependent on others to mitigate their crisis.

We also educate the women vendors about their rights and entitlement under various government schemes related to housing, sanitation, subsidized food grains, various legal provisions if exploited in any form. The women are seen more confident and empowered to demand their rights. The effort is also on to help their siblings to get proper education. The NERSWN also makes attempts to help the dependents get engaged with income generating activities. The alcoholism is rampant among the vendors and also among their dependents. Hence, initiatives have been taken to reduce alcoholism through counseling and engaging them with the productive activities.

The project as such has not been able to fully achieve its stated goals & objectives due to financial constraints but the organization foresees an effective intervention in the days to come. So that the population, who are pushed at the periphery of their life, could be brought back in to the progressive track of life. And to be able to journey in this direction we look forward for helping hand from every possible corner.

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