Promoting the status of women
Microcredit for women is a breath of fresh air for the whole community! It empowers women to engage in profitable activities. This project supports indigenous culture in 17 villages and acts to defend the local language, Alchiki.
In the states of Jharkhand and West Bengal, families of tribal origin have particularly difficult living conditions. Most of the families involved in this project are of Santhal origin. They live in a very isolated area, with poor sanitary conditions. Their local language is threatened with extinction. Women are marginalized, and are victims of strong inequalities. In addition, declining rainfall has recently led to a drop in the yield of rice crops, leading to a seasonal migration towards cities.
The action of Terre des Hommes Switzerland
This program has two objectives: provide food security for families and improve the status of women. The program focuses on villages where 80% of the population is of tribal origin.
The program acts on several fronts: first, it seeks to improve the food security of families. To this end, the Rural Development Association (RDA) - the local partner of Terre des Hommes Switzerland - works in several ways. They provide training on agricultural skills, including livestock care and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method, use of which can increases crop yields by 60%. They organize the construction of retention ponds that make steady irrigation possible. RDA also trains community health workers to improve the sanitary conditions in villages.
The other main focus of the program is to improve the status of women. RDA helps women of tribal origin who are excluded and victims of strong inequalities by promoting the creation of Women Self-Help Groups (WSHGs). These support groups have set up a microcredit system for women that allows them to engage in income-generating activities, the profits of which are used to repay the loans. Women working in these programs participate in workshops aimed at improving their living conditions. Men are also invited to discussions, which cover topics such as domestic violence or the education of girls. RDA's goal is to bring about a real mentality change on the status of women!
RDA also wants to make families aware of the importance of education. This project includes the restoration of the communal culture and language, Alchiki, in 7 villages of the state of Jharkhand. Since mastering the vernacular language is essential to maintaining strong bonds between generations, language courses have been set up in several villages.
A new addition to this program is making children aware of ecology issues in Child Centers. The idea behind this is to give children the ability to contribute to the protection of their environment. 18 Children's Centers will be opened, which will train 400 children and young people to protect the environment through concrete actions (planting trees, drinking water management or looking for alternatives to plastic bags). Harvests are more abundant, women take an active part in the development of their communities, young people protect their environment.