Vishakha is celebrating its 28th year of establishment for right based intervention in the area of education, health, and combating violence against women and girls. In the past two decade Vishakha has worked towards empowerment of women, girls and marginalized communities primarily in Rajasthan and other parts of the country. Vishakha was one of the key litigants in filling a joint a joint PIL in the case where the Supreme Court of India issued the landmark Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual harassment at the Workplace in 1997, popularly known as the Vishakha Guidelines, which became base for the new The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
Vishakha’s vision is to reestablish the women’s identity as an individual in her own right and to work towards individual and collective empowerment of women, children, youth and communities through securing of rights and self strengthening with joy.
- To create empowering spaces for women through consciousness raising awareness, generation and education.
- To introduce innovation within the education system so that access is equitable and learning encompasses life skills.
- To establish community-based activity spaces for men and women to encourage dialogue on issues of participatory governance and village development.
- To enhance women’s access to their right to health and equity.
- To support women in their struggle for justice against discrimination, oppression and violence. Locating empowerment within the Self of women through healing and meditative practices.
- To advocate for gender sensitive policies and rights of women and marginalised groups.
- To publish researches and studies on women related issues.
- To build a comprehensive Resource Centre on gender wherefrom documentation, analysis and dissemination of relevant information on issues concerning women, children and other marginalised communities can be taken up.
Core to Vishakha’s work is to empower individual and communities and to address the root cause of inequality, injustice and discrimination. We believe that inequality leads to deprivation of rights, opportunities, choices, knowledge and resources. Vishakha seeks to address this through a rights based approach where communities and invidual are the right holder. The focus is on inclusion based on gender, marginalization, vulnerabilities and creating accountability mechanisms to ensure guarantee rights of the people.
We work to bring changes in lives of people and communities through bringing in structural and systemic changes:
- Creating accountability mechanism at the state and institutional level
- Increase social inclusion based on gender, identify, marginalization
- Increase voices of people in decision making processes
- Empowering individual and communities to articulate and demand for their rights.
- Changing mindsets and believes that are discriminatory and perpetuates violence.
In the last 25 years we have worked in 75 villages of Phagi block of Jaipur District primarily collectivizing women for greater dignity and equity through literacy, enhancing health access, facilitating women’s participation in the educational planning of the village, in local governance institutions, to knowledge through rural libraries and by supporting them to continuously challenge violence against them in the home and public spaces. We have also worked to create spaces for education and creative expression for children and young people and advocated for their sustenance.
We have led large scale programmes using multiple strategies among men and women to revisit gender roles and norms. We ran multiple community campaigns using people’s media and brought out publications to suit the rural milieu. We have facilitated the groups to raise their voice for rights in education and health locally and participate in the statewide campaigns for the right to food, work and information.
In 2001-2003 we partnered with IDS Sussex to undertake a large scale Multi country study of ‘Exclusion and inclusion of Dalit Children in formal education in Rajasthan and MP’. The study was widely disseminated among diverse advocacy, research and implementing organizations, including the government departments of education.
In June 2004, Vishakha gave a new extension and structure to its 13 years of work among women and the understanding emerging thereof. ‘Mahila Salah Evam Suraksha Kendras’ were initiated in 10 districts of Rajasthan in collaboration with the state Department of Police and are located in Mahila Thana Premises in every district. In the last 9 years, over 16000 women have approached the various MSSKs. Emerging from our qualitative demonstration and advocacy of the various women’s rights organisations in Rajasthan, In 2010, The Govt of Rajasthan decided to replicate the MSSK model in all 33 districts of Rajasthan and we handed over 8 MSSKs to new implementing agencies and continue to facilitate the MSSKs at Udaipur and Ajmer.
One of our special experiments has been the Anandi Healing Centre for women and Children as a unique space for reenergising and rejuvenation for women and children facing violence. Emerging from our concern for women who sustained long durations challenging violence and found themselves spent and deenergised even after receiving some significant legal- social reliefs…it emerged that empowerment needs to be addressed at deep emotional plains and is best handled through a deep penetrative experience of the mind- body- heart connect. Using a range of meditative and healing therapies, the centre offered women a safe space for sharing and venting, reconnecting with their own energies, their identity and being. A similar concern was felt with children witnessing violence in their homes. The centre was run for 3 years reaching over 300 women and had to be closed down in absence of funding; in the last year we also experimented with mainstreaming the Healing children’s experiences of violence in a school setting reaching out to over 1500 children.
In 2009 we initiated the ‘Targeted Intervention project for prevention of HIV/AIDS’ in the district of Hanumangarh to support women sex workers seek entitlements to health. Demonstrating another model of women’s empowerment, herein we have tried to challenge the taboo and hazards in sex work.
In 2011, in partnership with UNFPA, Country office, we have taken up a technical support role in Capacity building, strengthening of stakeholder engagement in supporting the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan in Udaipur District towards establishment and facilitation of 120 Teen clubs reaching out to 2000 Out of school adolescents.
During 2014-2016 we have been implementing “Adolescent Girl initiative project”, supported by UNFPA, with the objective of empowering adolescent girls in slumber of Udaipur District. The objective of this program is to strengthen and provide input to Sabla Program run by Rajasthan Government through various strategies i.e. capacity building, environment building, partnership and networking, documentation, advocacy and regular monitoring and supportive supervision.
This project specifically have focus on out of school girls with the age group of 11-19 The larger objective of the program is girls empowerment so that adolescent girls can build their capacity to take decision in all aspect of their life i.e. expressing themselves, delaying age of marriage, reproductive rights, access to available resource and control over them etc.
In 2014 we initiated a project named “Developing and implementing a ‘ youth pertinent well-being oriented gender sensitive Counseling framework’ through two live experiments in Bagru town and Jaipur city.( supported by NFI Youth innovation Fund since 2014)” As an extension of the program its learning was later adapted into a certificate course-
“Fostering Strengths- skills and perspective for enhancing psycho-social well-being of adolescents and young people” which was designed and implemented in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS ) and currently run twice a year.
During Feb 2017- June 2018 implemented Wajood program to reduce gender inequality in 46 locations of Udaipur and Jaipur districts. We have worked 50 youth groups as core strategies to increase the access of GBV survivors to appropriate services: similarly environment building and working with system to mainstream gender issues are also key strategies. We are running youth resource center and counselling center at two location under this projects.
In 2017 -18 we initiated the two small intervention with tribal adolescent , youth and community focused on RSHR and empowering them to counter GBV with the support of innovative grant of Amplify change
We are a part of the Women’s movement in Rajasthan and have participated and facilitated the participation of various women’s and community groups in the people’s campaigns for the right to information, food and work. We have participated in and led several state level and national campaigns and advocacy initiatives for women centric legislation and programmes.
- 2 Current role : Capacity Building, Technical support:
Since 2009, Vishakha re-strategized its organisational role to primarily emerge as a Technical Support Agency on issues of challenging VAWG through community and institutional interventions, implementation of the PWDVA, facilitating young people’s leadership to address gender and violence issues in their communities, organisational Gender mainstreaming, Women’s empowerment, experiments in Healing for Women and children, Gender issues in educational and out of school settings.
We have been since then primarily engaged in Intensive capacity building, materials creation, research and conceptual and strategic support to diverse interventions, most of them large scale and rural. We have worked with both Government and NGO interventions/ programmes.
This has included roles like :
- Concurrent Capacity building of all PWDVA functionaries (Women Development corporation) in the State of Bihar supported by the DFID- SWASTH PROJECT in Bihar.
- Developing a Standard Operating protocol for the tele helpline on domestic violence in the state of Bihar and supporting the GOB in creating Draft rules for the implementation of the PWDVA.
- Creating a Manual on Gender, GBV, life skills and participatory leadership for young people and training and monitoring 50 Facilitators as part of the Engendered programme of Plan India in two states.
- part of the UNDP-IKEA’s Women’s Empowerment Project in 3 districts of Eastern UP.
- Capacity building of field level staff on GBV issues and a study of 3 districts in mapping GBV as part of the Tejaswini programme of the Mahila Vitt Vikas Nigam in Madhya Pradesh.
- Capacity building of programme staff and NYKS Functionaries in Youth leadership curriculum as part of the UNFPA supported Teen club Intervention in 5 states.
- Gender mainstreaming and programme staff trainings with Care India in Uttar Pradesh, Casp Plan, Chetana and other partners of Plan India.
- Healing interventions with children participants of bridge course programmes run by Muskaan in Bhopal.
While some of these engagements are complete others are ongoing.