Formation of Women Groups Bharathi Meenava Pengal Iyakkam (BMPI) Leadership Development Health Improvement Economic Development
Formation of Women Groups:
Since the inception of ROSE in 1993, it has been partnering with rural poor women, specifically from farm sector, for their social and economic empowerment. It is totally committed to empower women in terms of gender equality and improved quality of life with economic, health and social wellbeing through training, awareness generation and livelihood support. ROSE facilitated poor rural women to form their own Self Help Groups (SHGs) with a common identity and collective actions.
In the process, ROSE has expedited formation of 453 women SHGs in two different geographical units - rural and coastal. The rural women hail from small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural laborers and the coastal women are mostly from poor fishing communities.
However, ROSE has not formed these women groups exclusively for the purposes of savings and availing micro-credit as the case with many NGOs. ROSE has initiated this intervention with the purpose of equipping rural women with skills to assert their role in the farming sector. It is our firm conviction that once they are capable of influencing the farming sector in a positive way, they could handle any development processes, including micro-credit, successfully.
With this vision in perspective, ROSE works with women farmers in the rural belt promoting an alternative farming system that could withstand and challenge any onslaughts from drought, unfavorable market, and natural resource degradation.
ROSE accords importance to leadership building, gender equity, future sustainability, and Social and Environmental education. ROSE has mobilized 8126 women within the fold of 453 Women SHGs and formed 20 Farmers Clubs, 21 Children Eco Clubs, 11 Adolescent Girls Groups and 5 Disaster Task Force Groups for Disaster Risk Management.
Bharathi Meenava Pengal Iyakkam (BMPI):
It is a women movement with a membership of 1247 fisher women formed exclusively for addressing the problems and issues faced by fisher women. It has an Executive Committee elected by the General Body members annually.
ROSE has organized several training programs for building their capacities and skills to address the issues confronting them. It works in collaboration and harmony with the local leadership, the Village Councils, All Women Police Station, and the District Administration to deal with women issues collectively.
ROSE has formed a Block level community women team to address issues related to creating awareness and acting upon the negative impact of the Sumangali Scheme, importance of girls education, consequences of early marriage and child protection.
ROSE has been organizing various training programs and camps continuously for women to develop their leadership traits and motivate them to involve in the development process. Apart from focusing on the improvement of leadership and communication skills, it is also conducting programs on paralegal, Panchayat Raj System (Local governance), Right to Information Act and the impact of Sumangali Scheme at village, block and district levels.
In addition, these training programs dealt with topics on social and gender analysis, identification of problems and issues faced by women at village level, the root causes of problems and how to solve them at their level and at community level by evolving strategies and approaches to address them.
Statistics reveal that 60% of maternal deaths occur during the first week after birth. Yet most lactating mothers remain in their homes during such critical first week due to lack of awareness. Most lactating mothers do not go for postnatal care (PNC). Even if they visit the available health facilities nearby during postpartum period, only very few Health Workers are available to offer post-natal services. Moreover, post-natal services are not known to majority of the community members. Even if the state government does take some genuine efforts, women from villages do not avail such services.
Hence so as to scale up the health services in rural areas, especially to young mothers, ROSE organized ANC/PNC training programs to generate awareness among young mothers. It has also organized periodical health camps at village especially for women and children.
To address the health issues of women, children and adolescent girls, ROSE promoted 508 nutrition gardens with vegetables, green leaves, fruits and herbals in the backyards utilizing the waste water from their kitchens and bath rooms.
As a result, it has reduced their expenses for purchasing vegetables in the open market. They consumed the available organic and fresh vegetables from their backyards for their families. The consumption of these fresh and organic vegetables has improved nutrition level among women and children providing minerals and vitamins, crucial ingredients for physical fitness of children, teen agers and women.
These kitchen gardens have also become an important source of income for some of these families. The coastal villages where ROSE works faced acute drinking water problem due to ground water depletion and seawater intrusion. People used to travel a lot to fetch water for drinking and domestic purposes. In such a situation, the fisher women came together, discussed the problem and came out with a solution. Accordingly, ROSE developed a project with their participation and supported fisher women to construct roof water harvesting structures in their households.
Having gained knowledge through experience, these women prepared a memorandum and submitted to the government urging it to include roof water harvesting as one of the components of their housing scheme. The authorities concerned have promised to discuss the demand with government at the top level.
As a result, the frequency of people traveling by bus to the neighboring areas for taking bath and washing their clothes was reduced by 30%.
ROSE has given top most priority to the most vulnerable groups of women like destitute, widows, single women, and women headed families for their livelihood enhancement. They are mostly from families involved in fish related and agriculture related activities. We trained them with skills and provided them with loans to initiate their own micro enterprises. These women are now earning an additional income of around INR. 5000 to 7500 per month. ROSE gave three-fourth of the loans for economic empowerment of women of poor families living in the rural area.