Chetanalaya’s efforts for gender mainstreaming and promotion of equal participation of women and men in decision-making is an important development strategy as women continue to have fewer rights, lower education and health status, less income and less access to resources and decision-making than men.
There are many gender roles socially constructed that are oppressive and need social transformation. While it is important for both genders to participate in the gender development interventions and initiatives, more interventions are required for women to bring balance in the gender relations and power equations. Gender development is a strategy adopted by Chetanalaya to empower the women more and ultimately to re-distribute power among women and men. Chetanalaya conducts a series of training and awareness talks on gender-related issues like dowry, rape, domestic violence, matrimonial disputes etc. in all of its operational areas and thereby bringing them back to the mainstreams of society. Chetanalaya has launched girl child/gender development programmes in all the interventions areas. It has organized several training programmes to highlight gender concepts, female feticide and Panchayati Raj.
The female feticide has become a common phenomenon. People do have access to pre- natal sex determination to find out whether the baby in the womb is male or female. Any scientific technology is to be used in the right way. But at times it is misused. The male female ratio gets drastically affected due to female feticide. In today’s India, male children are given special attention. More opportunities are provided to boys to come up in life. Constantly female children are ignored and neglected. They remain still under subjugation.
Women being the silent and voiceless sufferers in the Indian society, the need to empower them both socially and economically to live dignified lives is a goal towards which the whole nation has been aspiring. For the realization of this much-needed scenario, especially in the marginalized societies, Chetanalaya has been animating Mahila mandals. Today in many of these slums, they have become a powerful force for bringing about awareness on education, health, sanitation, realization of basic rights as well as against social evils of alcoholism, dowry harassment and drug abuse. The Mahila mandals have been instrumental in taking up issues of old age pension, road repairing, garbage disposal, and ration cards. The Mahila Mandal movement today has become a powerful medium for positive social action and constructive social change in the slums.
Realizing the lacunas where gender is concerned, India has passed laws that make it mandatory for local governments to include women. One third of the seats in local bodies—gram or village panchayats, municipalities, city corporations and district bodies—are "reserved" for women. This means the contests can only be between women in these constituencies. The first step in enabling women to participate has been taken. This reservation of seats, in the 1993-94 elections, has brought in about 800,000 women into the political process in a single election. In rural areas women have been empowered to participate actively in Gram Sabha and Panchayati Raj. Some have become elected members and leaders of local governance. The vision of Chetanalaya for SHGs today is to empower women to enter into politics at the village, district, state and national level. Panchayati Raj enables the rural, the uneducated masses, especially the women to participate in local government. It gives them a sense of importance to organize and to plan and implement what is planned for the village community.
The International women’s day was utilized as a tool by Chetanalaya to focus on the atrocities against women, their legal rights against these atrocities and to motivate them for united efforts. The message was delivered through dance, drama and songs. All the programmes emphasize on women empowerment, legal rights of women against domestic violence, female infanticide, education and social equality of girl child. This programme comes to an end with an oath taken to empower women and to create awareness among them at a rapid pace.