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Profiles of Single Woman
 
Ekal Nari Shakti Sangthan,
Himachal Pradesh.
 
SUTRA in co-ordination with some sister organizations has been working alongside single women organizations for the last 2 years. We have taken up the issues related to the social and economic status of single women and the numerous other problems faced by them in their day today life.

To deal more effectively with the state of single women in HP, we have formed a platform called Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan (ENSS). ENSS is an association of single women that is working towards securing the rights of single women to live with dignity and justice.

Under this banner widows, deserted, divorced, unmarried and the ones whose husbands are missing are putting forth their problems.

ENSS, to date, has a total membership of 6059 single women, spread across 194 Panchayats and 18 development Blocks. It includes single women from all cross sections of the society; cutting across class and caste divides.

Activities Undertaken by ENSS in 2006-2007
For the past two years, ENSS has undertaken the following activities –
 
  • Block level quarterly meetings were held in 18 development Blocks in the state. 3 single women members from each panchayat were selected to participate in the meetings. 30 women from 10 Panchayats from each Block participated in these quarterly meetings. These meeting were held to discuss their problems, achievements and future strategies. In all 58 meetings at these 18 blocks were held

  • 35 Zone level meetings were held wherein 2 members from each block took part to discuss among others, government schemes, pension to the divorced, free health care to the single women and an end to the violence against them. In the first meeting the membership fee was fixed to be Rs 25/- per annum. Financial help from the government was demanded for bringing up the small children of the single women. Their demand was accepted by the govt. and a sum of Rs 1,000/- per child annual grant was made available by the H.P. Govt under the Mother Teresa Scheme. The details of the meetings have been tabulated below.

  • 49 state level meets were organized which were held at SUTRA Jagjit Nagar and Shimla between May 2006 to 2007. Two ENSS members from every Panchayat were selected and took part. Representatives from various concerned government departments were also invited to take part. They gave information about their departments and how the women could benefit from them. A woman advocate, Ms Pratima Malhotra offered to take up legal cases of single women

  • Bank accounts were opened for ENSS members. They have also been given an officially recognized badge, declaring their status. Membership Fee and the badge amount were collected from the members and bank accounts were opened for the same in the development blocks. Two elected members from each block were given the responsibilities to maintain these accounts.

  • ENSS members have been marking their presence in and bringing their problems to Gram Sabha meetings

  • All ENSS meetings and forums have actively encouraged the enrollment of new members.

  • Earnest efforts have been made to get financial assistance to single women benefits under Government Schemes. A new scheme, especially aimed at single women was also initiated. The following are some of the schemes through which single women have received benefits-

    • The Mother Teresa Scheme. The Govt only as an effort of the ENSS members initiated this scheme.
    • Widow pension
    • Chief ministerís Kanyadan scheme

  • Legal information camps were conducted for ENSS members to provide specific knowledge to fight the menace of domestic violence, women property rights and dowry related violence. Fieldworkers of ENSS were also provided training on Nyaya Panchayats. Nyaya Panchayats are responsible for the judicial functions of the Panchayat and for resolving petty disputes at the village level.

  • Camps were organized to create awareness, build capacity and self-confidence in the ENSS members as well in NGOs who are working with these women. The following issues were taken up for discussion at the camps

    Objectives of -forming the Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan

    • To increase the representation of single women in the Panchayats for securing social justice
    • To understand the state of single women in the society
    • To ensure better health care for single women
    • To ensure economic independence of single women
    • To stop all types of violence against women

  • Training programmes for single women on computer operations have been conducted.
As a consequence of the above efforts, members of ENSS are now becoming more aware of their rights and are now able to place their problems at all the forums, including the government departments. They have become confident and are more willing to fight for their rights.
 

 
ENSS Demand For Goverment Land For Single Women
Gender And Equity & Life Free From Violence
In the second state level meeting, which was held from 15/3/2007 to 17/3/2007 in Sangati, Shimla, members of the ENSS who participated asked the Government to give 10 bighas of agriculture land on lease to the needy single women as a measure towards making them economically independent and self-sufficient. They also placed their demand for free medical checkups and medicines for old single women.

ENSS had placed before the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh their charter of demands, endorsed by ENSS members through a statewide signature campaign, requesting it to fulfill these demands by October 2007. They had also warned that if the Government failed to meet their demands they would undertake a protest march and launch an agitation.

Since no action has been taken by the Government so far, keeping to their words the ENSS members will be undertaking a 60Km protest march over three days, from 1-3rd April 2008, to present to the new Government in Shimla their charter of demands, especially their demand for government land.
 
 
 
 
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