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Our Vision & Activities

OUR VISION is to Empower Women as Agents of Change in Community Development, Population Programmes and Environmental Protection in Madhya Pradesh: A Focus upon Conflict Resolution and Leadership Building.

Some areas of the old city of Bhopal were affected both by the gas leakage from the Union Carbide plant on the night of 2/3 December, 1984 as well as the riots in the aftermath of the attack on the Babri Masjid on 6 December in 1992. These were mainly the homes of the urban poor.

The compensation schemes and rehabilitation programmes drew the women out of their houses per force in order to access them. Women had to go personally to bailiffs, courts and government offices to prove identity and claims-something they would never have done ordinarily.

The women grew familiar with the administrative processes and began understand to Some extent the role of the government. They began to acquire the knowhow of the beauruecratic maze requirement to access government benefits and schemes.

1992 - The Women's Response It is interesting that in 1992 the women seem to have reacted with greater vigour and taken on a proactive role almost from the beginning Links were forged between Hindu and Muslim women, not on the basis of their community but on their experience. It was the women who decided that collective action was the one possible way to protect themselves against further exploitation. Organization like the Mahashakti catalysed change by ensuring regular meetings and dialogue between women from both communities.

The MSK continued to facilitate dialogue among the women over time the number of women grew and the MSK organized weekly afternoon meetings at public park opposite Lily Cinema Hall at a central point in the city.

These meetings proved ideal forums for developing strength, unity, support and confidence. A sense of solidarity emerged and many found they were able to speak out their ideas, needs and hopes without fear in the non threatening atmosphere.
gradually their familiarity with confidence in the democratic process of group decision making grew.

The group now finally decided to formalize their existence by forming a society. The society was registered as the MAhashakti Seva Kendera in March 1993, and had for their symbol as image of Durga with her entire array weapon, based on the concept of Mahila Shakti or female power.

Mahashakti Seva Kendra has organized training programs in block printing and kalamkari for its members under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana and also management training with the support of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation {RGF}. The women surged ahead towards formal group formations, which identified their needs and objectives. They prioritized them, developed the confidence with the willingness to work. Through these exercises, they extended and developed co-operative and collaborative attitudes and practices within the group.

The group demanded that Government schemes and loans for disadvantaged sections of society should be made available to them. They resorted to more aggressive forms of collective bargaining, gheraos, rasta rooks and rallies. The group even travelled to Delhi to gamer further political support for their demand and move towards political visibility.

MSK has organized training programmes in block printing and batick for its members under the Jawar Rozgar Yojana and also management training with the support of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Thanks to Ms. Sonia Gandhi.

Thus the women moved towards formal group formation by a process which identified their needs and objectives, prioritized them, developed the confidence and will to work at them. In doing this they extended and developed cooperative and collaborative attitudes and practices within the group. They understood that they would be individually unable to fight the forces of communalism and economic deprivation in the slums and that lack of organization and unity was one of the main causes of exploitation and underdevelopment among urban women.

An Examination of Status Enhancement Classically it has been seen that periods of conflict and social upheaval throw up women's movements. It is argued that at times of wars, conflicts and struggles all faction need their maximum human resources and therefore mobilize women to assume more roles than expected of them in normal circumstances. thus we find that though the experience of a man-made disaster of immense magnitude and communal riots in the space of one decade may be unique to Bhopal, the process of empowerment finds echoes elsewhere.

Thus the process and phases of status of enhancement were.

Learning to negotiate the system to claim their due.

Attempting to playa mediating role in community conflict'and problem solving

Understanding the existing social, economic and political conditions; evincing faith in democratic values and collective decision making and willingness to use these.

The members of MSK therefore grew from unempowered slum women to negotiating for greater aid and grants from government [1984] to mediating within the community for harmony [1992] to bargaining at a political level for greater concessions and patronage for the collective is a whole [Post 1992]. In their individual capacity, most negotiated greater space for themselves within the family, and many assumed leadership roles in the collective.

The Vision and mission of MSK :

Empowering women as powerful agents of change in community, through economic, social and political awareness, with income generating programmes, and awareness creating regarding habitation cleanliness, health and hygiene require to be part of all training.

Provide training for raising women's managerial capabilities and provide technical support to equip them to undertake entrepreneurial activities, handle marketing and forward backward linkages. The women's vision for the future needs to include a possibility of diversification of livelihood earning activities and the need to grow and expand. Keeping in view up gradation of present skills.

Literacy levels require to be strengthened and those that show promise may be facilitated to acquire minimum qualifications.

Legal literacy with regard to provision for special support to women involves in cases relating to violence, sexual molestation, poverty, maintenance and divorce.