Introducing Namma Maathu, Namma Jaaga
Sarada Mahesh | September 2018
A brief note about the aim, objectives, and the structure of Namma Maathu, Namma Jaaga, as team Prakriye begins its journey
Since 2005, IT for Change’s field centre, Prakriye, has been working to empower the women in H.D. Kote and Hunsur districts of Mysore. Prakriye’s team has been implementing localized information communication technology (ICT) solutions to support the women’s sanghas in the different villages that were under the wing of the Mahila Samakhya program by the Department of Education.
The work in this area has enabled the residents of the village to get access to details and benefits of welfare schemes and entitlements provided for by the State through the ICT enabled information centers that were set up in accessible areas.
While IT for Change has always worked for the overall benefit of the residents of the villages, the focus of our interventions has particularly been on women’s collectives, elected women’s representatives and adolescent girls. The ideas of critical learning, women’s rights and gender justice were imparted to women through the various interactions between the Mysore team, and the girls and women. They discussed education for girls, campaigns against child marriage and challenges against gender and caste discrimination with the girls and the women.
However, the Mahila Samakhya program shut in 2014 and the community’s overall investment in the learning processes declined. Lack of staff support and resources led to a situation where women were denied real choices to seek redressal against the gender-based violence faced by them either in public or in private.
Additionally, women were reluctant to seek help from the existing structures established under the Protection against Domestic Violence Act, 2005 either because they would be forced by the authorities to resort to legal methods to resolve the problem or they wanted to avoid getting entangled in additional problems of the judicial system or the financial and emotional burden that came with it.
In these circumstances, women had privately approached the Prakriye team to seek support against the domestic violence faced by them. This made us realize that for every woman who raises an issue, that there are many who do not. Violence is not just an interpersonal issue — it is a deep-seated structural and patriarchal problem that has led to the normalization of violence against women and girls. The silence around the issue by women is due to their implied understanding of their subordinate status in society. Keeping all these factors in mind, we decided to launch the Namma Maathu, Namma Jaaga project.
Literally translated, the project name means ‘Our discourse, our space’. What we intend to do through the course of the project implementation is to provide women a platform to voice their problems, and provide them with psycho-social counseling assistance, as well as links to legal aid if they opt for the same.
We intend to make the women challenge the existing social norms, beliefs, and attitudes that treat women as inferior. In addition to this, the project will attempt to make men take equal responsibility by recognizing and eliminating male prejudice. We want to work towards breaking the silence surrounding gender-based violence and towards the establishment of a gender equal society.