These platforms for women leaders have had cascading effect, impacting the women, their families and community, the local and district level administration and line departments as well as local political leadership. It has increased their confidence and self-esteem due to various inputs on issues like gender, equality, rights and justice, Indian Constitution, democracy, values of good governance like transparency, accountability, inclusion etc. The Manch has given them space to share their experiences, challenges and learn from each other. It has enhanced their visibility as leaders with increased negotiating power when dealing with the administration and bureaucracy.The Manchs have initiated collective actions, both at the block and district levels, by taking up cases related to issues of WERs and other developmental issues. Some of these related to accessing benefits under various developmental schemes, provision of facilities in the villages like water, roads, health etc. and also undertaking newer issues like land/property rights for women, violence against women etc. The Manch members have thereby established linkage between gender sensitive development and good governance(2).
(1) These numbers reflect the membership outreach of Sushasini only. It works in 3 other blocks in the District with other likeminded NGOs/CBOs who undertake Manch activities in their geographies. Thus the number of members is cumulatively much more than is reflected here.
(2) An adolescent girl started with her menstruation while in school. Not carrying a sanitary napkin on her person, she repeatedly sought permission from the male teacher to go home, which was denied. Finally during the break, the girl had to rush home feeling very embarrassed, having to walk all through in stained clothes. When this was related in one of the Manch meetings, the women decided to get a resolution passed in their Panchayats to provide sanitary napkins for girls in schools. Such resolutions were passed in 27 villages.