Adivasi women face two layers of marginalization and discrimination in society on account of their ethnicity and gender. Adivasi women living and working in tea gardens suffer particular hardships of low wages, poor work conditions, and inadequate health, nutrition and sanitation. PAJHRA helps counter these challenges by facilitating opportunities for Adivasi women to assume leadership positions in fighting for their own and their communities’ rights.
PAJHRA helps organise training for Adivasi women, occasionally through self-help groups, to help them learn their rights and develop leadership skills to become self-reliant in demanding accountability. Some of PAJHRA’s leadership training focuses on building personal self-esteem as well as teaching practical skills such as public speaking, organisational management, and planning. Other leadership training have been targeted specifically to elected women representatives, focusing on local self-governance (“panchayat rural institutions”). PAJHRA also helps arrange health training, such as on the importance of menstrual hygiene, to address particular physical challenges facing Adivasi women.
PAJHRA’s training have helped give women the knowledge and confidence to themselves seek access to various government benefit schemes and raise complaints regarding schemes that are withheld or poorly supported. For example, women empowered through PAJHRA’s training programmes have successfully sought improved access to government health services for pregnant and lactating women.
PAJHRA’s success in enabling women to raise health and benefit concerns with officials has led to the formation of regular monthly grievance meetings between Adivasi women and block-level managers and other officials. The forums present a rare opportunity for Adivasi women to raise their voices directly with government officials to demand the fulfilment of their rights.
Support of Women’s Forums
PAJHRA helped form an Adivasi women’s forum and continues to help the forum develop planning and organisational capacity so that women, themselves, can identify leading concerns they face – from domestic violence to trafficking, to land rights, to girl child education – and prioritize strategies to tackle these challenges. The women’s forum helps Adivasi women across the state to communicate and coordinate their activities.