This week I got to attend some of the meetings and programs that Jeevika offers. On Monday I got to go the the Self Help Groups (SHGs) of the micro-finance program in the villages of South 24 Parganas. These areas were completely different from the city. It was great to see the programs in action in the field after reading so much about them. Swayamsampurna, the micro-finance program, is truly amazing, with so many women utilizing its resources. During the meetings the Loan Officer, who runs the meetings, talked about Alor Bata and Alor Disha, the women's rights groups, and asked if anybody had anything they wanted to talk about. This really demonstrated Jeevika's approach of combining financial empowerment and education on women's rights.
I also got to attend some trainings for the Alor Bata and Alor Disha groups. The most interesting thing to me was that even though the practices and violences that oppress women, such as child marriage, are different from the one's I encounter in my work at home, the attitudes and beliefs that contribute to these practices are far from different. I heard accounts of victim-blaming, sex-shaming, and sexism that were eerily similar to one's I've heard time and time again.
I have also decided that on top of the child marriage project I am doing with Jeevika I will be interviewing other women's rights organizations in the city. I am hoping to gain a more complete picture of what women's rights violations look like in Kolkata and how these change based on women's different identities and situations. The interventions that many of these groups are doing are innovative and genius, so I hope to gain a better understanding of these as well.
Here's the Jeevika website if you're interested in reading about their programs: