Just imagine if you’ve never been to school… How would you feel?
You are not able to write your name, read simple words, or count money.
You have low self-esteem and open to being exploited, cheated and abused.
Your opinion is not important
You don’t understand official documents but have to endorse them anyway.
The words of your 8 year old son may carry more weight
You fear the police and public officials
You have little or no understanding of your basic rights, including your rights over your children, your property, your inheritance and your body.
You use a thumb print and feel humiliated …
The above is the plight of a typical woman that is supported by our work.
Dalit women in India suffer from three oppressions: gender, as a result of patriarchy; class, from being from the poorest and most marginalised communities; and caste, from coming from the lowest caste, the ‘untouchables’.
Although discrimination on the basis of caste is against the Indian constitution and prohibited by many laws, its practice is still widespread, especially in rural India. In most cases, the women are classed as secondary level beneficiaries. Within these communities women are poor, asset less and invisible on the socio-economic front. They are therefore engaged in even greater menial work than their spouses and often resort to subsistence occupations to eke out a meagre income.
However, the role of women becomes crucial in poor families where the male contribution to the household income is low. Some men spend almost all their income on personal consumption like liquor or tobacco. As a result, the family is heavily dependent on the earning potential of women (and or children) for survival and a significant number of women are sole contributors to the family income. Henceforth, Dalit women end up working as bonded agricultural labourers with low/underpaid wages, in spite of their knowledge and skills in other areas of life. The extreme perennial economic deprivation for women has also resulted in illiteracy, malnourishment and poor health conditions. In addition, they are overworked, oppressed and victimised by entrenched patriarchal attitudes within the family and the wider community.
The need for economic empowerment
More often than not, the ultimate victim of rural poverty is the female. She is denied her basic human rights at home and is further isolated with her perceived lower status of importance within the immediate and wider family hierarchy. They do not have access to any form of financial credit and are denied rights to property. Kamla Foundation values the contribution of women in all societies and recognises the need to work to develop the potential of women and enhance their quality of life, resulting in improved prospects for their immediate family and the wider community.
Empower groups of women to pool their savings, lend to each other and use the power of the Group to address social justice issues that they deem most relevant to their lives.