1. Research and Documentation Projects
1.1 Guidebooks on the MTP and PCPNDT Acts:
Writing simplified versions of two laws – The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971; and The Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 – which was initiated last year was completed this year in June 2016. This project was undertaken at the request of ‘Pratigya’ – a national level campaign for gender equality and safe abortion.
1.2 Women and Land Rights:
Duration: 9 months; October 2015 – June 2016
This is an ongoing research and advocacy project coupled with the component of capacity building of grassroots organizations on law and policy pertaining to women and property rights. The first phase of the project began in October 2015, and is to be completed in June 2016. This phase aims at evolving a programmatic agenda for women and land rights in Maharashtra. The project is being carried out with the financial support of Swiss Aid India.
Background: Although women are primary agricultural producers, cultivating around 60 to 80 per cent of the food in most developing countries, the percentage of land they own is disproportionately small. Often, they do not have secure rights to the land they farm and are denied equal rights to access, inherit, or own it. Women are denied equal rights not only to land but also to other forms of moveable and immoveable property, which subjects women to an increased risk of losing their source of food, income, and shelter. Studies show the linkages when women have secure rights to land and other forms of property; family nutrition and health improves; women may be less likely to be victims of domestic violence; children are more likely to receive an education and stay in school longer; women may have better access to micro-credit; women’s participation in household decision-making increases, women become less vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS; HIV-positive women may be better able to cope with the consequences of AIDS. In spite of this, the current laws, government policies as well as the social customs are not very conducive for promoting property rights of women. In small ways, where the laws and policies are favorable, their implementation is often hindered by the lack of awareness amongst the women and women’s organizations. Though some notable work on property rights have taken place in small pockets of Maharashtra, it is neither widely shared nor replicated.
With this understanding, Women’s Studies Centre, partnered with the NGO – Society for Promotion of Participatory Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM) and undertook the project – Women and Land rights. The core team to be working on this project included Dr. Jaya Sagade and Ms. Prasanna Invally from WSC, ILS Law College; Ms. Seema Kulkarni and Ms. Sneha Bhat from SOPPECOM, and Ms. Chaaya Datar, Ms. Ritu Diwan as special invitees.
Prior to launch of this project, a team of representatives from Women’s Studies Centre and SOPPECOM visited the secretariat of the network – ‘Working Group for Women and Land Ownership’ in Ahmedabad. The visit helped the team to understand how the network operates, its achievements in influencing the government functionaries, and the positive impact of collective intervention at the grassroots level in realizing women’s rights over family property. It made the team contemplate developing such a network in Maharashtra, by first undertaking a review to understand the women and land right issues in the different regions of Maharashtra, and developing a status report.
Activities: The first phase thus began with the following activities; some of which have been completed this year (until March 2016), and a few others pending:
- To review of the status of women and land rights in Maharashtra which the following activities were conducted:
- Secondary data from Census, Agricultural census, NSSO and other relevant reports and studies were collected, compiled and analysed
- Interviews with 15 women leaders of political parties and non party political groups and other civil society groups actively engaged in women and livelihood related issues in Maharashtra were completed. Another 10 political party leaders and academicians would be done in the months of april and May 2016. Their position, opinion, key ideas, issues they think are important etc. is being sought.
- One day regional meetings with existing networks of civil society groups were held in five regions – Riagad, Vidarbha, Marathwada, Konkan (south), and North Maharashtra. These meetings discussed the key issues of the region around women, land and livelihood. Experiments and actions undertaken by the groups for promoting women‘s right to land/property and for livelihoods were shared.
- The reports of these meetings were prepared and shared with the respective networks.
- A two-day state level consultation with about 50 key participants across the state is scheduled on 5th and 6th April 2016, in Pune. A comprehensive report – in the form of a status paper based on the regional meetings, interviews and secondary data has been shared with the particpants. The consultation proposes to discuss issues, including legal issues; experiments that have been successful; and articulate suggestions for addressing these issues. The experiences of Working Group for Women and Land Ownership (WGWLO) – a network of civil society organizations in Gujarat and the agenda of the national level network – Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM) would be shared.
The consultation is expected to provide an opportunity for setting up a state level network, and identify areas of research action and training, and help in developing a road map.
2. Conducting courses / training projects
2.1. Training project: “Enhancing quality of counselling services for domestic
Duration: One year – June 2015 to May 2016
Number of participants: 18 counsellors from 9 NGOs
Background: In the previous year, a 2 ½ days training workshop with counsellors attached to rural-based NGOs who help women facing domestic violence through support and legal remedies was held. It had aimed at equipping them with the knowledge on mental health, and skills required for dealing with mental health issues among domestic violence survivors. The participants found the workshop relevant and useful, as it provided a new dimension to their intervention. Such counselling skills clubbed with legal intervention, would prove to be more effective for empowering women take appropriate decisions that would help them lead a better quality of life, and they expressed need for in depth training. Accordingly, a year-long training project was designed and implemented. Swiss Aid India is financially supporting this training project.
Incorporating elements for trainee evaluation through pre-post Knowledge-Attitude-Skills questionnaires, assessments based on homework assignments, and observation of actual counselling sessions by the training team, the training project took off in June 2015.
The NGOs that participated were – Manavlok (Ambajogai, Beed), Savitirbai Phule Mahila Mandal (Beed), Halo Medical Foundation (Andur, Osmanabad), Heritage (Lanja, Ratnagiri), Sneh Samruddhi (Devrukh, Ratnagiri), Sahil (Kousumb, Ratnagiri), MASUM (Purnadar, Pune), Shramik Sanstha (Satara), Shramik mahila Morcha (Pune)
The core training team included – Dr. Shirsha Sathe (psychologist), Dr. Kaustubh Joag (psychiatrist), Dr. Jaya Sagade (law professor) and Prasanna Invally (social worker). Guest faculty were Dr. Anuradha Karkare (psychologist), Dr. Manik Dande (CBT practitioner) and Prasad Vanarase (theatre specialist).
Methodology: The training project used the methodology of contact training through workshops and field level training through visits of the training team to the field areas of the trainee counsellors. Intermediary homework assignments were mandatory and provided to the trainees throughout the year.
Three workshops were conducted; the table below provides an overview at a glance
|Thematic focus of workshop||Topics addressed|
|1.||25th June 2015
27th June 2015
|Understanding the dynamics of domestic violence||× Knowing the counselee
× Knowing the perpetrator Understanding violence as endured and enacted
× History taking – the first step in counselling
× Overall assessment of the current situation
|2.||30th July 2015 to
1st August 2015
|Mental health status and mental illness||× Spectrum across which mental health is determined
× Severe and common mental illnesses
× Stress, adjustment, defence mechanisms
|3.||1st Dec 2015
4th Dec 2015
|Counselling techniques and skills||× Beginning the counselling process
× Counselling process and skills – from identifying the presenting complaint to evaluating progress
× Addiction counselling
× Understanding conflict resolution
× Introduction to CBT and REBT
× Using the framework of steps in the change process, for counselling
× Nurturing relationships
The trainees were given 10 homework assignments at regular intervals. To name a few, the assignments included reviewing the data on women who approached their counselling centres, exercise in history taking, writing descriptive answers to questions on concepts learnt and case analysis. It helped them prepare for each upcoming workshop, revise what they learnt, develop practice of writing, and bring precision in thinking. The trainees appreciated the learning experience due to the writing exercises.
Field training and backup support
The training team visited the NGOs involved in the training in the months of January and February. The aim of these visits was to help counsellors apply the theory learnt in the workshops into actual practice. The training team observed the counselling conducted by each of the counsellors. Due consent of the counselees was taken for witnessing the session. The trainers also intervened in the counselling where necessary. Each session was then discussed with the counsellors, during which reading material and notes of the workshops were referred to.
Application of theoretical concepts to practice has been a challenge for the trainees. Hence, practice exercises were given as homework, notes were exchanges, and these were then discussed with the trainees using skype, and personally.
More field-based training would be undertaken in the months of April and May 2016.
3. Providing consultancy/ advice/ support
- ‘Purushbhaan Parishad’ – A Men’s Convention for Gender Equality
Date: 30th May 2015
The idea of the convention was initiated by two women’s organizations that have been part of the autonomous women’s movement in India – Nari Samata Manch and Stree Mukti Sanghatana. Women’s Studies Centre participated in the planning meetings for this Convention and supported the convention in audio and written documentation.
The purpose of the Convention was to bring men across Maharashtra on a common platform to speak out their concerns about masculinity and notions of ‘manliness’ that create a discriminatory society; the discrimination based on gender-based, caste, class, religion, region or nation. The convention is unique as it is the first of its kind organized by the women’s movement that seeks involvement of men in changing the power equations in this discriminatory society.
- Training workshops on Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) at Manavlok, Ambajogai.
Date: 17th and 18th October 2015
NGO Manavlok, located in Ambajogai, Beed district, Maharashtra, invited Women’s Studies Centre to conduct the workshop on PWDVA. The participants of the workshop on the first day were about 40 and include the police patil, protection officers and social workers of the Osmanabad district, and on the second day were about 10-12 lawyers. The gender perspective as well as provisions of the Act was the focus of both the workshops. The purpose of the Act as a civil law was also highlighted. The training was particularly useful for protection officers who were newly appointed, for the police patil whose role has not been defined by the PWDVA. Lawyers too, were not well-versed with the Act, and the Women’s Studies Centre contemplated on the idea of developing a user manual for the lawyers.
- Training workshops on Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) organized by Halo Medical Foundation, Andur.
Date: 17th Jan 2016
The NGO Halo Medical Foundation, Andur, Osmanabad district, Maharashtra invited Women’s Studies Centre to conduct the workshop on PWDVA for about 60 judges and lawyers of Osmanabad district. The sessions focussed on understanding the provisions of the Act and using them from a gender sensitive perspective. The spirit behind the Act was highlighted by giving several examples that brought out the need for speedy interim orders, the importance of seeking for and granting a protection order, and using section 28 that gives powers to the court for deciding its own procedure.
- Training workshop on women related laws on domestic violence organized by Prakriti, Nagpur.
Date: 25th Feb 2016
The NGO, Prakriti that works in Nagpur city and rural parts of Nagpur and Bhandara in Maharashtra, invited the Women’s Studies Centre on a panel for speaking at the workshop on the above subject. About 100 counsellors, lawyers, social workers and women survivors of domestic violence attended the workshop. PWDVA and dowry related laws were primarily presented and discussed. Women who were facing violence spoke about their issues in using law – ranging from whether to access law or not, to grievances about delays, non-cooperation of lawyers, police, court officials etc. They also sought information on maintenance and its recovery, child custody and ‘streedhan’. The workshop concluded on the note that collective efforts are required for advocating better implementation of law, and need for more training in counselling and law.