We remain grateful to your unstinted support that has enabled us to work for the transformation of lives of children and women of vulnerable communities over the years, and especially in 2017.
Last year through our sponsorship programme we were able to help more than 42,566 children bring transformation in their own lives and in that of their communities across India. Tremendous success was achieved in Uttar Pradesh, through a collaborative project with the State government and the support of Unicef to involve communities in ensuring that government schools provide quality education and emerge as child friendly spaces. We continue to provide support to women survivors of violence through Gauravi the one stop crisis centre in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and are extending support to other such centres across Uttar Pradesh, in Manipur and in Tamil Nadu. Your generous response to our special appeal helped us provide relief and rehabilitation to vulnerable communities affected by floods across India. We look forward to your continued support in 2018 and the years to come. Support our work. Sponsor a child today!
In Uttar Pradesh, more than 3000 children shifted back to government schools from private schools attracted to the quality of education provided thanks to the effective implementation of Project Muskaan that covers 1,987 government schools spread across 65 blocks in 8 districts. Started in 2016, the Unicef-supported project has activated the community to ensure quality of education and learning environment in government schools. In January, the Government of Uttar Pradesh approved the scale up of the project to all 75 districts, with ActionAid and Unicef becoming technical partners.
Our work around children’s education witnessed more than 35,900 children being enrolled into schools across our operational areas in 2017. More than 2100 schools have been made functional with effective school management committees and regularization of mid-day meals. More than 5000 children were linked with scholarships and collaboration with governments and agencies have also been made to improve infrastructure of hundreds of schools across the country.
In February, a trans boundary river walk from the banks of river Ganga in Murshidabad, West Bengal, to the river Padma in Bangladesh was organized to create greater understanding and building alliance among people on transboundary issues. Later a series of meetings also saw the emergence of the Antarastriya Nadi Adhikar Abhiyan (International River Right Campaign) as a trans-boundary river governance platform in South Asia.
Forest as commons
In 2017 we also focused on tribal governance and implementation of Forest Rights Act, especially the community forest rights and habitat rights. Efforts by our allies and colleagues resulted in establishment of community-based titles of more than 1,59,000 acres of forest-land across our operational areas.
In March we joined civil society groups across the Global South calling for mechanisms to guarantee human rights and strategies for civil society engagement with BRICS. We released Reclaiming Relevance: BRICS and the New Multipolarity, a joint publication with ActionAid Brazil and ActionAid South Africa, reviewing the relevance of BRICS to the people of these countries and exploring further processes by which BRICS could be reimagined and reinvigorated.
Listening to children of nomads
We called for greater provisioning for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes, or DNT communities, who have long been deprived of welfare schemes. We organized a state level advocacy workshop in collaboration with Unicef in Jaipur. A publication Listening to Children of Nomads: Let us re-write the narratives of stigma and exclusion was released in March. Later in a consultation with the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment we also advocated for a permanent commission on the DNT communities.
Our efforts to build wider solidarities with corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives got a shot in the arm when the Government of Rajasthan presented ActionAid India the prestigious Corporate Social Responsibility Award in the category of “Peace, Justice and Stronger Institutions” during the CSR Summit 2017 held in Jaipur. Earlier in the year we launched a collaborative initiative with the Times Foundation to transform CSR into a collective social responsibility for holistic and sustainable change. Over the year we jointly organized workshops in various cities with an objective to understand the CSR landscape and learn from each other in order to create a collective vision for innovative CSR strategies and practices. We also organized a national consultation on private sector engagement in SURGE Capacity aimed at enhancing the ability of organizations to rapidly and effectively scale up its available resources during emergencies.
Through Gauravi, the one stop crisis centre in Bhopal that we run in collaboration with the Government of Madhya Pradesh, we have reached out to nearly 11,000 survivors of violence with medical, legal and psychosocial support. In 2017 807 cases were registered of which 434 were related to domestic violence, 112 cases of dowry, 25 molestation, 101 rape cases and 135 other forms of violence. 13 minor girls were linked with education and 33 women with skill development training, while 108 women survivors were provided with temporary shelter facilities.
In Uttar Pradesh, we have been providing technical support to run Asha Jyoti Kendras, the one stop crisis centres running in 17 districts. We developed standard operating procedures for the centers, and are also building capacity of officials responsible for their day-to-day functioning.
In June we met at an all team retreat to collectively reflect on the external review of our work over the last five years and initiate the processes to create our new strategy to ensure that we remain relevant and effective in our work in solidarity with the most vulnerable sections of society. We celebrated teams and their achievements, and used this opportunity to boost collective inspirations, energies and synergies to move forward with greater solidarity, efficiency and effectiveness.
As massive floods created havoc in Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and North East states, ActionAid India with support from its local allies reached out to thousands of vulnerable communities affected by the disaster. We focused on response to people living in poverty and exclusion, and among them women, children, the aged and people with disability. We reached out to more than 6,000 flood affected families across our operational areas through immediate relief efforts that included providing dry rations, drinking water, medicines, clothes, utensils, solar lamps etc. In many places, we provided temporary shelter assistance to those who lost their houses in the floods. Currently, we are providing winter clothes and nutritional support to children and women in Bihar.
It’s heartening to see the support from generous people like you and corporates who have joined hands with us in our effort to help the flood affected rebuild their lives.
It was a great victory for women when the Supreme Court of India banned triple talaq – the practice that allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying or communicating the word “talaq” thrice. We welcomed the verdict and congratulated all the women who brought this matter to the apex court and to justice. ActionAid India is proud to be part of this struggle together with Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andlan, one of the petitioners in this case, and others.
Resisting child marriage
We released a report Elimination of Child Marriage in India: Progress and Prospects that revealed that nearly 103 million people in India were married before they turned 18, and the number of people married as children in India is more than the total population of Philippines and Germany. The report is based on the analysis of data from Census 2011 and other sample surveys. Read news reports from here.
In line with the UN-Habitat’s World Urban Campaign initiative, an Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) was organized in Kolkata in September to promote sustainable and inclusive urbanisation. The campus aimed at initiating dialogues among different constituencies on creating sustainable and inclusive urbanization was organized by Citizen’s Rights Collective, our Urban Knowledge Activist Hub. ActionAid India’s Executive Director Sandeep Chachra, who is also the co-chair of World Urban Campaign, also hosted a Twitter Chat around #TheCityWeNeed that saw hundreds of people sharing ideas and issues related to urban poverty, city planning and on building sustainable and inclusive cities.
We working closely with people in the informal economy helping them access entitlements and building skill. Thousands of people engaged in the informal sector have been provided with vocational training in order to strengthen them and enable them to become more capable of earning more than what they are earning now.
Significant advances have been made by vulnerable rural communities for their land rights and to enhance farming for livelihood in several parts of the country. With our support and intervention more than 5,000 people were able to receive homestead and agricultural land titles, covering a total of 1,03,050 acres of homestead land and 1,19,670 acres of agricultural land. More than 1,59,000 acres of forest land have also been claimed by tribal communities under Forest Rights Act across our operational areas. These were possible because of the continuous struggle by the communities supported by awareness drives, consultations and public hearings organized by our colleagues and allies across the country.
Our work in rural areas was centred on building alternatives in the form of climate resistant sustainable farming to meet the challenges of the on-going agrarian crisis. Efforts at bringing women farmers in the forefront and building collectives for farming and non-farm based livelihood enhancement also were a major focus. More than 2000 trainings were conducted, while nearly 1600 farmers collectives were set up in 2017.
Women spend two to ten times more time doing unpaid work than men, and one of the major manifestations of the extent of stress and sustainability in a woman’s life is lack of sleep. This has been revealed by the ActionAid India research Invisible Work, Invisible Workers – The Sub-Economies of Unpaid Work and Paid Work. The research was part of our efforts to highlight the issue of women’s unpaid work and push for policies to reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid work. The report was released during a women’s assembly in Delhi in November by Shri Ramdas Athawale, Hon’ble Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment.
On the issue of women’s rights over property, we collaborated with several other organisations and raised this issue on social media. We organised a tweetathon around #propertyforher which saw thousands of people – activists, researchers, students etc – participating the activity and sharing their thoughts and experiences on Twitter.
Through the year we sought out all opportunity to celebrate daughters through various events organised as part of our Beti Zindabad campaign that seeks improvement in the adverse sex ratio and gender parity. We focused on the main challenges and issues faced by girls in the country including child marriage, child trafficking, education, school safety and child sexual abuse. Thousands joined us in our efforts across our operational areas and took part in different activities that included community consultations, awareness rallies, cultural events, sports and competitions among others
We launched a survey covering 275 schools across the country to identify gaps in the implementation process of set guidelines on safety and security of children in schools. The survey to be released soon has been initiated as part of the #SchoolWithoutFear campaign to help children realise their rights and help them learn how best to assert them.