Raising Awareness: A Strategic Gateway
Raising Awareness is the cornerstone of all activities undertaken wherein a woman is looked upon as an independent individual. For this, emphasis is laid on workshops, the durations of which span over two to five days and stress on the key issue of women’s independence, individuality and need for social justice. Following this, a dialogue and discussion on the concerns of each particular group takes place locally. The idea is to raise awareness of women about their human rights and individuality. As a group passes through these workshops, some women emerge as leaders and a committee is organized. Gradually, they become active on issues like supporting a woman who is victimized, either at home or in society, or helping a woman reach out to get medical help, or lead a demand for removing dung heaps from their villages as well as urging parents to send their daughters to school. All activities that are undertaken rest on the fundamental premise of women’s rights and autonomy.
Psychological and Legal counselling
Women in distress are often engulfed with undesirable thoughts and are provided with the much needed support through counselling. AWAG runs counselling centres in all its work areas. Legal Aid Centres provide women with legal counselling and assistance in attending courts as well.
Policy and Research
Policy change and institutional reforms are key to tackling social injustice and bringing long term relief to the oppressed. In India a lot of domestic violence cases go unreported due to the apathetic attitude of the police and other state bodies. Our research on domestic violence abuses led to re-evaluation of the criminal justice system in Gujarat in 1995. We worked on sensitizing the police force of Gujarat to the plight of these women and have succeeded in incorporating the following procedures to the police manual:
Campaigning and Advocacy
Campaigning and lobbying is an important aspect of our fight against gender violence. Our campaigns help us reach out to oppressed women and give them the message that they are not alone. Through persistent campaigns, we put pressure on stakeholders to take action against injustice. Demeaning images of women in the media and other public arenas contribute towards anti-women attitudes. AWAG has always stood up against derogatory portrayals of women in public spaces and has campaigned for respect for women’s dignity.
Our past campaigns include:
- Advocacy for improved wording in government resolutions
- Sustained protests against media sensationalism in covering news of rapes and sati
- Campaign to bring gender equality through school text books.
- Advocacy for Strict Implementation of the Policy for Prohibition of Alcohol in Gujarat
The victims of gender violence and abuse are offered skill training. They learn skills and upgrade their learning to high level and then start working for income. Most women join in stitching/tailoring. Others undertake other activities.