Organizing Womens' Self-Help Groups

In Khammam district Gramya supports a local organization, the Agricultural and Social Development Society (ASDS) to organize koya tribal women in V.R.Puram and Chintoor mandals. Currently more than 1000 women from 37 villages are members of the organization that has been promoted by ASDS by the inspiration and guidance of Gramya. ASDS/Gramya have been able to strengthen their organization and develop their understanding to start independent interventions. As a result of the efforts during the pilot phase, women's group leaders representing 200 women's groups received training on legal literacy and creating sustainable livelihoods. As a result 3000 women involved in self help groups have started streamlining their systems..

The mode of the women's organization in Khammam district is different as mentioned above. In addition to the self help groups and the Indira Kranthi Patham platform at the Mandal level, a separate and distinct organization of tribal women called the Natwan Sangam formed in 2002 has been strengthened and continues to function albeit informally. This membership based organization now extends to thirty seven villages across three mandals and has grown steadily.

A core committee of twenty three women constitutes the leadership and decision making structure of the organization. The core committee meets once a month at the office of ASDS. The two main support services provided are 1. Managing thrift and credit activities and 2. Supporting women to redress their problems when non-tribal men exploit them. In cases of marital disputes, rape and related violence the women's committee has intervened to ensure that women get justice. It reviews and decides how best to address issues affecting tribal women of the area.

Gramya has organized women in Nalgonda and Khammam separately. As mentioned earlier 59 groups were created by the end of 2005 in Nalgonda district and four more groups emerged this year and were strengthened through regular meetings and discussions. We had budgeted to support the new groups with a revolving fund. In addition to the small funds made available through the programme we were able to motivate the women's groups to streamline their systems and continuously approach banks for resources. Several efforts were made by us to create sustainable village institutions and we were able to integrate the groups in to government programmes. In collaboration with government Velugu/IKP programme, we made efforts to promote village based organizations by bringing together the SHGs and provided leadership to the institutions through the women leaders trained by Gramya. These village institutions are called "sangha bhandhas" in Nalgonda District. All 59 groups have joined the institutions.

These institutions were guided to regularly follow up the systems which were developed by us through conducting Monthly review meetings. Every month the leaders of 59 sanghas will participate in these meetings. Total 196 women leaders have participated. Three review meetings were also organized by us independently to assess the local situation.
The issues discussed in review meetings were about---- distribution of seeds and loans, problems facing women in the families and villages, health of women and children, immunization for children, children's education (whether the schools are functioning well or not) and how to deal with cases of violence.

Income generation for sanghas and single women: This year Gramya has provided loans to 12 sanghas and for 6 single women in Nalgonda. Sangha women invested the loan to buy sheep and goats and also for the purpose of ensuring timely agriculture inputs. Groups revolve interest free loans for future use.

Support to victims of violence against women:
Gramya has adopted a strategy to support the victims of violence through closely working with Mandal Mahila Samakhyas(MMS), The MMS are vertically integrated SHGs at the Mandal and district level. Organizing fact finding Committees and meetings is another action introduced by us to discuss about women's problems.

Issues discussed in the meetings were:

Presentation of violence cases at Mandal level working out appropriate strategies to ensure justice to women and follow up of old cases
Functioning of anganwadi schools, village wise information about pregnant women and lactating mothers and accessibility of nutritious food for children
Tracing out drop outs from school in villages
Child marriages (are there any instances in the villages)
Identification of victims of domestic violence

Support to single women
We have identified a number of single women who are facing severe economic hardship and provided them financial support. Most of the women preferred to buy goats as they are hardy and provide a quick return. Since the women don't own any land or housing they struggle continuously for survival. Six single women supported by Gramya financially. Details are as follows:
1. N.Bujji - Rs.5000 amount was given; she utilized this support for goat rearing.
2. Daryani-Rs.5000
3. A.Bujji- Rs.5000 to buy a cow to feed her girl baby since she did not have adequate breast milk.
4. Mothi- Rs.5000 for goat rearing
5. S. Venkamma - Rs. 2000
6. Sattemma - Rs. 5000/-.



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