In Pandori in the North of India, a small village just near the border with Pakistan, there were nine widows who had never even heard about a government pension program for them. They had no idea there was a legal way to support their livelihood nor how to apply, even though they live in poverty.
Barkha Rani is AMMACHI Labs’ new community organizer in Pandori. She called a meeting of the local self help group (SHG) members to discuss existing government initiatives for them. Barkha invited the widows’ attention to the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme and promised to assist eligible applicants to apply.
The sharing of this information was part of Barkha’s goal to inform the women about their legal rights as citizens. She held free legal seminars and a session on the Right to Information Act. The same has occurred in our villages across India as part of a legal awareness training program for SHG women.
It’s a vital way to empower these women as they learn their civil liberties. The sessions include information about laws on violence against women, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, forced marriage and alcoholism.
Upon learning their rights, the women see that there are solutions to many of the difficulties they face in their lives – issues that had often been previously ignored.