Building Alliances for Advocacy in India

The Hunger Project works with strategic partners to create environments for the safe and productive participation of women and underserved populations in electoral processes in India.

Through partnership with local civil society organizations, state- and district-level federations, and national coordination, The Hunger Project works to create enabling environments for the safe and productive participation of women and underserved populations in electoral processes in India. Particular topics around which Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) and federations advocate include the Two-Child Norm, the Sumangali Scheme, constitutional acts and issues such as malnutrition, violence against women, and child rights. The Hunger Project-India supports increasing knowledge and awareness among EWRs and voters on these topics through knowledge-based workshops, Gender Resource Centers, campaigns, and workshops.

Two-Child Norm

Two-Child Norm is a policy intended to demonstrate the seriousness of the Indian government’s attempt to stabilize population. The Two-Child Norm prohibits the participation of any aspiring panchayati raj (village council) representative that has more than two living children. As a result, male representatives will abandon their families in order to adhere to the under-two children requirement. Women’s political participation is further restricted, hampering the growth of female political leadership, and further marginalizing communities.

To combat this, The Hunger Project-India educates EWRs and voters on their rights and equality, promoting an environment free of discrimination. EWRs relentlessly advocate against the Two-Child Norm, lobbying in states such as Rajasthan and Odisha where the policy is deeply ingrained. The Hunger Project-India serves as a founding and coordinating member of the National Coalition against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Measures.

Violence Against Women

The Hunger Project-India and Federations of EWRs hold activities across India to educate communities on women’s rights and to combat violence against women. Through campaigns such as 16 Days of Activism in December and One Billion Rising for Justice in February, women and supporters gather safely in their communities to raise awareness for justice and the right to a violence free society. Other activities include press conferences, district-level conventions, rallies, village meetings, street plays and film screenings. In 2013, The Hunger Project spearheaded an initiative that for the very first time, engaged with EWRs from Gram Kacheris (democratically-elected judicial bodies, or Village Local Courts) to address the issue of violence against women in panchayats. It is a significant step toward sustaining broader alliances at the panchayat level to advocate for safe communities and living conditions.

Sumangali Scheme

The Sumangali Scheme was introduced in the 1990s to hire young, often impoverished, women workers under a three-year contract at spinning mills with promise of payment at the end of the three years. The Scheme enables exploitation of these young women, who often work in dangerous environments with little personal or skills development. The Hunger Project-India continues to build alliances to work to eradicate the Sumangali Scheme, and a new monitoring strategy has been developed against Sumangali intending to use local governance frameworks to better monitor and track the young women migrating to work under the Scheme.