Born in a conservative community of Babaji’s (priests) of Gujarat, where girls are married off at tender age and education is a far cry for them, here is Mital, the bold and enthusiastic women, about to get inducted in the Gujarat police force due to her father’s unflinching support in wake of strong resistance from relatives and within the community. Mital in her twenties is from rural areas the sleepy town of Somnath in Junagadh, thrilled with joy and satisfaction for making it to the Gujarat State police forces after years of sustained efforts. Her father retired from service, and at present works as a temple priest. Her mother is a home maker, has 2 older sisters and one brother. She studied throughout from Gujarati medium. Babaji community has strong patriarchal influence, which does not encourage girls to educate themselves. Such regressive and backward thinking leads to young girls getting married off at a tender age, even before they attain puberty. So when her father decided to educate Mital and two other sisters, he had to face stiff opposition from his relatives but they did not toe their line and chose to educate them.
After School, she decided to become police personnel, but there was lack of guidance. She pursued Masters of Social work, besides that she even appeared for police entrance again but could not clear the physical test because of lack of preparation. She joined a government NGO in Kutch near the Indo-Pak border as a community mobilizer after masters but her work was cut short, as her family felt the remote location was unsafe for her, so she came back.
After returning, when she was searching for jobs, she faced issues like eve-teasing her locality. Her work with the NGOs had changed her outlook towards such issues a lot, otherwise earlier her reaction would have been of indifference. She felt that the youth needs to be sensitized towards such issues and they should take the initiative. This led to her joining the Youth Force started by Saath, with a vision of empowering the urban slum youth. She got the chance of planning and implementing diverse activities for youth development as a member and in the capacity of a city coordinator of Rajkot. During her work she found numerous issues of gender biases in the community, which affected her work with the youth groups and especially female members who were not allowed to participate freely. The leadership training, workshops and trips along with the experience of youth force transformed her into a feminist youth change maker.
She again started preparing for the competition and the challenge was even tougher this time on, since she was working simultaneously. She clearly planned out her daily schedule keeping in mind her strengths and grey areas. After following the tough schedule for 6 months, she was selected as armed constable by the selection committee. Mital proudly says, “There is no alternative to hard work. Success comes only to those who work hard for it. Success comes to those who relentlessly move on irrespective of challenging circumstances. Without the support of my parents, and the exposure at Saath, it would not have been possible.” Mital looking back in the past says, “If my father had not taken a stand for us, then even I would have been married off at tender age without any life of my own and led a life like any other girl in our community. Mital plans to prepare for the civil service exams, which is her next milestone.
In the last month a mass demolition was carried out by the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) near Morbi Road behind Jay Jawan Jay Kishan Society due to which 65 families lost their house in the heavy monsoon season. The land belongs to RMC and the place is popularly known as Mafatiyaparu. Since last 35 years the affected families had been living there with all residential documentary evidence. Majority of the community people are daily wage earners. On 12th March 2014 community received a notice under Town Planning Act and was asked to vacate the encroached land. Two or three families just kept this notice with them while others visited the local counsellor for help. The counsellor then submitted a request letter to local elected MLA. From the counsellor the community got the message that the families who will demolish their houses voluntarily will receive dwelling unit from the RMC. However, no written commitment or legal steps had been followed. RMC had followed the due legal procedure and send last notice. Finally, in the month of August 2014 RMC did the mass demolition (30 families had voluntarily demolished their house while rest of the houses were demolished by RMC)
Saath’s Housing rights projects Rajkot team received this news through local newspaper and visited the site for fact finding. The affected community had aksed help and guidance from the team. The team drafted a request letter and submitted it to the Rajkot commissioner. At that time commissioner did not given positive response and instead of providing housing to the people he asked rent of the RMC land which they had used in last 35 years and used humilitative words for the community. Our team members tried to explain the poor condition of the community and then the commissioner suggested to apply for EWS and LIG housing scheme under Mukhya Mantri Awash Yojana (again this is not affordable to people).
Since the community had not followed the due legal process after receiving the notice, we realised that filing case in the court was not an effective strategy. Another strategy was planned to raise this issue at the nation level through National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPC). However, local political leaders took some interest and divided the community. Because of political intervention we took our step back, but kept eye on each action with the help of local leaders. Meanwhile, team did regular dialogues with the commissioner. On 16th September the commissioner gave positive response and verbally committed that the 30 families who had voluntarily demolished their houses will receive dwelling under BSUP scheme and suggested to meet Alpana Mitra (civil Engineer – RMC) for the same. Alpana Mitra has given positive response, and asked to do survey of all 65 families and that they will try to allocate housing to all the affected families. For us this is one of the major achievements that by we succeed to protect housing rights of the 65 families.
Guest Post by Mital Gondaliya, Rajkot Youth Force Coordinator
તા: ૮ માર્ચ ૨૦૧૪ ના રોજ આંતરરાષ્ટ્રીય મહિલા દિવસ નિમિતે સાથ ચેરીટેબલ ટ્રસ્ટ અને રાજકોટ યુથ ફોર્સ પ્રોગ્રામ દ્વારા રાજકોટ ખાતે મહિલા દિવસ ની ઉજવણી કરવામાં આવી હતી. આપને જાણીએ છીએ ક ૮ માર્ચ એટલે આંતરરાષ્ટ્રીય મહિલા દિવસ પરંતુ આ દિવસ ૮ માર્ચે ઉજવવા પાછળ નું કારણ એ છે કે ૮ માર્ચ ના દિવસે મહિલા ઓને આપવામાં આવતા અધિકારો ને સંવિધાન માં લેખિત સ્વરૂપ માં મંજૂરી આપવામાં આવી હતી.
પરંતુ આજે પણ કેટલીય મહિલા ઓ ને દહેજ ના લીધે તેમજ પુત્ર જન્મ ના થવા ના લીધે, ઘરેલું હિંસા નો ભોગ બનવું પડે છે. તો શું આપને કહી શકીએ છીએ કે આજની મહિલા સશક્ત બની છે? અને સશક્ત થવા માટે મહિલા એ જાગૃત થવું પડશે પોતાના હક અને અધિકારો વિશે. તેના પર થતા અત્યાચારો પ્રત્યે આવાજ ઉઠાવવો પડશે. તો જ ખરા અર્થ માં નારી સશક્તિકરણ થયું ગણાશે. અને આ જાગૃતિ લાવવાના હેતુ સાથે યુથ ફોર્સ રાજકોટ દ્વારા મહિલા દિવસ ની ઉજવણી કરવામાં આવી હતી.
મહિલા દિવસ ની ઉજવણી અંતર્ગત મુખ્ય મહેમાન માં કણસાગરા કોલેજ ના એમ.એસ.ડબલ્યુ. વિભાગ ના પ્રિન્સીપાલ ડોક્ટર અનસુયા અકબરી જેમણે આવેલ મહિલાઓનો પોતાના હક અધિકાર માટે શું કરવું જોઈએ અને નારી શક્તિ શું કરી શકે છે તે વિષે પ્રવચન આપેલું હતું.
ત્યાર બાદ રાજકોટ શહેર ના નામી ગાયનેકોલોજિસ્ટ ડોક્ટર પ્રતિક્ષાબેન કે જેવો ૧૫૦ ફૂટ રીંગ રોડ પર પોતાનું મેટરનીટી હોસ્પિટલ પણ ધરાવે છે. તેવો એ મહિલા ઓ એ પોતાની સર સંભાળ અને સ્વશ્ય ની જાળવણી કઈ રીતે કરવી તે અંગે માર્ગદર્શન આપ્યું હતું. તેઓના મત મુજબ મહિલા ઓ આખો દિવસ પોતાના કામ માં વ્યસ્ત રેહતી હોય છે. જેના લીધે તે પોતાના સ્વાસ્થ્ય ની સર સંભાળ રાખવા નું તો સાવ ભૂલી જ જતી હોય છે. આથી તેવો આવેલ સ્ત્રીઓ ને તેમના શારીરિક અને માનસિક રીતે તેમના સ્વાસ્થ્ય ની જાળવણી કઈ રીતે કરવી તે અંગે માર્ગદર્શન આપ્યું હતું.
અને ત્રીજા વક્તા તરીકે શાંતિનિકેતન કોલેજ ના પ્રાધ્યાપક આંનદભાઈ એ ઠાકુર આવેલા હતા. તેઓ એ મહિલા શિક્ષણ અને મહિલા સશક્તિકરણ વિશે વાત કરી હતી ઉપરાંત મહિલા ઓ ના કામ કાજી તંત્ર અને સ્ત્રી શિક્ષણ માં આવેલ પરિવર્તન અંગે પણ વાત કરી હતી.
અને ત્યાર બાદ યુથ ફોર્સ ના મેમ્બર્સ દ્વારા સ્ત્રી જાગૃતિ માટે એક નાટક પણ રજુ કરવામાં આવ્યું હતું કે જેમાં મહિલાઓ ને ઘર ની બહાર નીકળવામાં પડતી મુશ્કેલીઓ કે જેમાં ઘણા અસામાજિક તત્વો સ્ત્રીઓ ને હેરાન કરતા હોય છે. અને આ આવા અસામાજિક તત્વો નો સામનો કઈ રીતે કરવો તેને અંગે નું માર્ગદર્શન આપવામાં આવ્યું હતું.
An Urban Resource Center (URC) is a platform for slum households to access information and services to help improve their quality of life. It identifies vulnerable families, individuals and links them to appropriate services. It also advocates for better basic facilities in the areas and helps the external markets understand the Bottom of the Pyramid population better.
Saath currently has 3 URC’s in Behrampura, Juhapura and Vasna area of Ahmedabad and 1 URC recently opened in Rajkot. URC’s act as one stop solutions for the urban slum dwellers, they aim to create awareness among the slum dwellers about the rights available to them by the government. It includes providing knowledge and resources to them to deal with important document and processes. The URC’s also monitor and evaluate the development in the community, advocates and runs campaigns related to various issues of the slum dwellers.
Whenever I have a problem I contact the URC: Afsana
Afsana, our URC beneficiary with her FWWB training certificate
Qureshi Afsana Sharifmiya, 31 years old, is a resident of Narayandas ni Chali, Behrampura. After the death of Afsana’s husband, her in-laws threw her and her three kids out of the house. Without any support she was left alone with the burden of supporting her kids. She is living since past 1 1/2 year with her sister-in-law. She applied for Widow Pension Scheme, through an agent, but even after 1 year she got no result. She lost all hope until one day she met Rehanaben (URC Field Worker) during a URC meeting near her home and told her about difficulties she is facing in availing the government services. Rehanaben informed her about the services provided by URC and gave her assurance that her work will be done. Through URC she got her widow pension, opened a bank account, filled election card, has undergone FWWB training and joined Urmila Home Manger programme.
Afsana says “Before I didn’t understand any of the procedures and paperwork, I used to go here and there without getting any results. Now, Thanks to URC I can easily avail government service benefits and any information I need I can get from the Urban Resource Centre.”
In the last year our URC’s reached out to more than 27,000 households and created 6,228 linkages for the urban poor.