The convergence project focuses on bringing together Panchayats and women from the community network under one platform. It is based on the premise that a democratically conscious community will help in strengthening and sustaining local government institutions. The project is being implemented in Jharkhand since 2015 and has brought about substantial changes in the functioning of the Panchayat and CBO network over the years.
Ranga Panchayat in Masalia Block of Dumka district (Jharkhand) is a tribal belt with an approximate population of 4500. The tribals belong to Santhal community and farming is one of the main source of their livelihood. The men are engaged in farming, fishing and other types of labour work whereas women are engaged in household activities like preparing food, fetching water etc. The Panchayat has basic infrastructure like school, hospital, roads etc. The Panchayat has 64 (Sixty four) SHGs and 7 (Seven) VOs with most of the women regularly attending the meetings and doing savings. As a socially conscious community, women have also been discussing issues affecting them and taking actions to address them. The project has motivated women to work for the overall well being and have also become more aware of their rights as well as citizenship.
Under the project, LRGs have formed Bal Samuhs and at present Ranga Panchayat has around 44 Bal Samuhs. Children have been doing activities like discussions, quiz, cultural programs etc. LRG’s, the community cadre have been guiding the children during these meetings.
However there were some situations that had to be addressed, especially the situation of local schools. Children never attended classes regularly and were always untidy. Parents of the children who went to school never bothered about the overall well being of their children. The authorities/teachers were also not concerned about the functioning of the school as most of the time students will be wandering outside playing and doing nothing. Under the guidance of the mentors and support of LRGs, women from the SHG federation took up the issue seriously. SHG women discussed about their children’s education in their weekly meetings. One of the VOs, Ranga Ajeevika Mahila Gram Sangathan decided that they will take care of their children and pay attention to their education along with regular follow up with school authorities. As part of it, SHG women have been attending School Management Committees (SMC) and even questioned the authorities making them more accountable. It has brought about a positive change in the existing situation as now the school authorities have been acting responsibly. The women visit the school once in a week and enquire about the children’s performance. Looking at the responsibility taken by the VO even other VOs from the Panchayat have been taking up the issue of attending to their children’s education seriously.
Women attending School Management Committee Meeting
Women taking their children to school