India: Successful Fundraising and Strengthening Women's Representation in Government

Interaction with Mrs Sonia Gandhi (a).jpg

Update to the Global Board
(April 2009)

Overview

The past six-month period has been unique in that the national leadership of The Hunger Project (THP)-India has focused much attention on fundraising. The team in India continues to work with THP Partner Countries in writing proposals and raising funds. The five-year Ribbink Van Den Hoef Foundation grant for the state of Madhya Pradesh was a measure of our success.

Federations of elected women have been strengthened in the four states of Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Overall, 32 block-level federations, with a membership of 1,900 elected women representatives, have been formed in these states. Of the 23 districts where these federations are formed, seven come partially or wholly under the Fifth Schedule, an article in the Indian Constitution providing for the special rights and administration of tribal areas. In these districts, the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act is applicable.

In Karnataka, the federation of elected women representatives (FEDEW) has nominated a new steering committee and has elected office bearers for the first time. FEDEW Karnataka proposes to register itself under the Societies Registration Act (1960) of Karnataka in April or May 2009.

The eighth Sarojini Naidu Prize, held on October 2, 2008, was a great success. Mr. P. Chidambaram, Finance Minister to the Government of India, was the esteemed chief guest. More than 1,300 article entries were received. Elected women leaders from 14 states came to Delhi for the occasion and also met the Congress President, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi at her residence to share their success and challenges (photo above).

The National Platform to Promote Decentralisation (NPPD) was launched in New Delhi. This first national consultation meeting of the NPPD was organized in partnership with the National Institute of Rural Development in Hyderabad. More than 30 representatives from civil society groups, academia, government, and multilateral and bilateral agencies such as The Ford Foundation, UNDP and SDC participated in the meeting. The stakeholders reiterated that THP should continue in its role as facilitator and secretariat for the NPPD.

Details on Progress

Training of Trainers (TOTs) Workshops

10 TOTs held, training a total of 201 trainers. Training modules were refreshed, and a new Federation training module was developed. All modules were printed.

Women's Leadership Workshops (WLWs) and Follow-up Workshops

Conducted in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra, 70 WLWs trained 998 elected women representatives (EWRs).

SWEEP - Pre-election Campaign

Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are planning for SWEEP, which will be launched later in 2009.

Federation Building in Karnataka

Federation representatives from 21 districts met at the state level and the election of FEDEW office bearers took place.

Federations facilitated in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar

32 block-level federations were facilitated with 1,900 EWRs members.

7 Media Workshops

173 journalists interfaced with EWRs, writing up EWRs in several mainstream newspapers across India. SNP 2009 received 1,327 entries.

National Platform for Promoting Decentralization

NPPD launched in November 2009 and research studies have been commissioned.

Partnerships

THP's partnership with the Government of India to set up media hubs has moved to the next phase. A pilot center is housed in the state office of The Hunger Project in Bhopal, which has already forged a partnership with media. The next phase will look at media partnerships in Rajasthan.

The Government of India is a key stakeholder in NPPD. Alongside the partnership at the national level, several efforts have been made to meet with state governments to promote decentralization in Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.

Edita Vokral, Assistant Director General of SDC and head of bilateral aid to India from Switzerland, visited our work in Maharashtra. She interacted with the elected women leaders and also attended a federation meeting.

THP's partnership with Environment Defense Fund (EDF) on strengthening women's leadership in forging the agenda of climate change in rural India continues. This partnership will develop a film on climate change and its impact on India. The film is now being edited. Once finalized, THP will hold a premiere in New Delhi. In the next phase, the film will be used as a vehicle to generate dialogue on climate change amongst the rural leaders to enable them to find locally sustainable solutions for their problems.

THP's partnership with SALA IDA (now known as SKL International) continues. In March 2009, seven EWRs from seven districts of Karnataka visited Sweden along with seven THP non-governmental organization (NGO) partners. The EWRs visited two municipalities and dialogued with female politicians of Sweden. They also visited different Swedish federations/associations to learn about the structure, membership and sustainability of large federations.

THP-India hosted an investor trip from Sweden and The Netherlands. The investors visited villages in Orissa and interacted with the elected women leaders.

Sriparna G. Chaudhuri, Director, THP-India, also met investors in Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden to talk about the path-breaking work of THP with the elected women leaders in village panchayats in India. Sriparna spoke at several events in these countries.

THP-India team member Kanika Kaul attended a SIDA-sponsored course in Sweden entitled "International Training Program on Democratic Institutions and Participatory Democracy."

We receive in-country unding contributions to THP-India from:

  1. Government of India (GOI);
  2. New Zealand Embassy; and
  3. Ribbink Van Den Hoek Foundation.

Broader Awareness and Advocacy

Mainstream newspapers and alternate media like The Times of India, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), One World South Asia, Orissa Today, Dinamalar, Indian Express, The Asian Age and Hindustan Times covered the 2008 Sarojini Naidu Prize and interviewed the elected women leaders who were in Delhi for the occasion and a meeting with the Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. Monglik Thongshin, an elected representative from the state of Arunachal Pradesh shared her vision of empowering women and girls in her community to generate incomes. Her story was covered by The Times of India, which caught the attention of two government officials from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Just recently, these two officials contacted Monglik and promised to provide her with funds to establish a weaving centre for the young women and girls in her village, making Monglik's dream come true! These same officials also expressed their amazement that THP provides such top-quality and effective training to elected women in such remote and isolated villages as Monglik's.

In Uttarakhand, the SWEEP campaign focused on a radio program, which ran for 21 days. The campaign successfully reached more than 15,000 people both directly and indirectly.

In January 2009, The Hunger Project-India, along with its partner Vikas Samvad and other bilateral organizations such as CRY and UNICEF, organized a three-day workshop called "Dialogues with the Media" in Madhya Pradesh. Leading dailies from six states - Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jharkhand and Punjab, as well as news portals, sent their reporters for the workshop.

In January 2009, elected women leaders from block-level federations representing five districts of Karnataka called for a press conference in order to raise their voices against the government. Paying for their own travel, women leaders came to Bangalore to talk about the notifications of the government that labeled Gram Panchayat Representatives as failures in implementation and execution of panchayat work. Twelve journalists from different media agencies participated in the meet and covered the issue in both English and Kannada newspapers.

THP-India collaborated with The Ministry of Women and Child Development (Government of India), UNIFEM and the Norwegian Embassy in Delhi to celebrate International Women's Day in March 2009. Approximately 700 guests, who included senior government officials, diplomats, bilateral organizations, civil society organizations and women from diverse groups across the city, attended the festivities. In addition, The Times of India, India's leading National Daily interviewed and quoted Ms. Rita Sarin Country Director of THP-India, in an article entitled "Agents of Change March On." This article highlighted the achievements of elected women leaders across the country and the difference they are making in their communities.

The Country Director, along with the senior team members, has attended 26 strategic meetings in the last six months to initiate new partnerships and deepen the agenda of women and local governance with the Government of India, bilateral agencies and other key stakeholders.

Recent Innovations

THP-India has adopted the Anti Sexual Harassment Policy and is in the process of setting up a Committee. According to the Supreme Court of India Vishakha guidelines, every organization is mandated to adopt an Anti Sexual Harassment Policy.

THP-India commissioned a book on the lives of seven EWRs from seven different states. The book is entitled "A Woman in Politics." The stories have been written by well-known authors and journalists and have been edited by a freelance writer and columnist. Harper Collins India has shown keen interest in publishing the book.

Impact Assessment

The main objective of impact assessment for this period was to track and quantify the activities per our strategy:

  • Data has been uploaded on the THP website for year 2008.
  • Coding sheets based on all the activities of THP-India have been developed to track programs across India, so consistency in reporting is maintained.
  • THP-India has submitted a detailed logframe to identify key outputs and inputs.

Future Plans

  • THP-India will be planning and implementing SWEEP in three large states: Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, and Karnataka.
  • THP-India will be hosting an investor trip in November 2009.
  • The federation of elected women in Karnataka will be launched in May 2009.
  • EDF-funded film on climate change will be premiered April/May 2009.
  • THP commissioned book profiling the stories of seven elected women will be published and launched by Harper Collins in September/October 2009.