In India, DAY-NRLM is the largest government programme working exclusively with rural women, yet there remains the need to move from ‘working with women ‘to working with a ‘gender equality and rights approach’. Rural women face numerous structural and institutional constraints in realising their right to livelihoods, resources, decent work and social protection. To facilitate gendered social action at the grassroot level and as part of its gender operational strategy, the NRLM has also established several institutional platforms at the village level, which self-help group members can approach in times of need. Prime among them, is the Social Action Committee (SAC), which is to be formed in each village, at the Village Organisation (VO) level.
This volume contains inspiring stories of VO-SACs from across states, in how they handled incredibly complex issues and furthered the agenda of gender equality in their villages. They range from how a Social Action Committee helped increase women’s access to rights and entitlements through engagement with public institutions; to how another increased women’s access to property by encouraging land ownership in their name. Besides these efforts, other issues covered by VO-SACs include addressing wage disparities between men and women in the village through collective action; addressing issues of drudgery through collective action; the labour rights of migrants; adverse social norms like tackling the scrooge of alcoholism, the high incidence of domestic violence, and child abuse and human trafficking; and lately, COVID-19 related gender issues.