Mahila Samakhya Karnakata; When Women Come Together (1)
When women come together; beautiful things happen to the world.
My journey to Mahila Smakhya Karnakata began long before I came to India in May 2013. The journey started few years ago, when Sister Cynthia Stephen, the current Director of Mahila Samakhya Karnakata and myself came together through a social media platform. We discovered that we share common vision; a world where marginalized women are empowered through education and economic empowerment. We hit it off immediately, came together and became sisters in solidarity.
Our coming together, facilitates an easy journey for my connecting with the rural Indian women, the real women who have understood the journey of this earth, the women who wade through the waters and swim through the current of oceans, the know it all and do it all; though never appreciated.
When women come together, I mean it, beautiful things happen. This came to past in Mahila Samakhya.
Mahila Samakhya is an initiative of the government of India. It began in 1989 through the Ministry of Human Resource Development under the Department of Education. It stressed the need for an intervention to create gender equality through Education. The programme is currently implemented in 10 States in India.
Mahila Samakhya aims at bringing women together to collectively solve their problems and empowers them to address wide variety of issues themselves. The principles of Mahila Samakhya is basically “Voice” giving voice to the rural woman. Mahila Samakhya implements its programmes through Education; spreading literacy among the Sangha ad education of the girl child. In addition, there are sections on Legal literacy, Health education, Economic empowerment, Sangha self reliance and Political awareness.
These women are brought together in groups called “Sangha” within each sangha; 2-3 women form a committee for each core and these 3 women deal with all matters in core area. In each village cluster, a strong, articulate and intelligent woman leads and she is the “Sahayogini”.
The Saghayogini is trained to identify common problems and the whole Sangha will collectively analyses and find solutions to these problems. In addition, the village level Sanghas come together to form the Maha-Sangha or Federation at the Taluka level. Maha Sangha is a formal decision making body which helps strengthens the VOICE of the Sangha. It is the link between Sanghas and the district administration which includes local institutions such as Panchayat, Department for Women and Child development, Police and other departments.
The last and equally important is the Kishori programme which target the young Indians- building them for a new and better generation made up of strong, self reliant and vibrant women. This programme targets 10-18 years old girls. The Kishori’ programme is complemented by the Bala Sangha’ which reaches out to young boys, it aims to impact right values; which promotes gender equality.
With my passion for Women’s education, Economic empowerment, self reliance for women and young girls; I easily fit into the vision and mission of Mahila Samakhya Karnakata.
This gave me the rare opportunity of meeting women from several communities in Karnakata. It is a once in a lifetime journey. This will go into narratives in 2 Acts for my global change makers to see and emulate what these women are doing in India.
In Karnakata state, the Mahila Samakhya is an autonomous body, registered under the Societies registration Act, 1860. It operates in 18 districts. It covers 2,400 villages and reaches out to over 202,000 women in 3,500 Sanghas who are in 36 Talukas and 68,000 young girls and more than 38,000 boys.
Women’s collective for VOICE is worthy of note and applicable everywhere there are women struggling for their voices. I visited ten communities within five days, though tedious journey, but the knowledge gained cannot be acquired in any office but field where we can learn and share with these women.