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At SCAD we are interested in empowerment that takes place when people challenge existing norms and culture to improve their well being and create their own development.
Our SCAD Women’s Self Help Groups (WSHGs) have challenged social norms not once but twice!
In the first instance women transformed the culture of being forced to stay in their homes. Initially when the women gathered together for meetings they had difficulty coming out of their homes because it was not traditional. In the beginning women were scorned and sometimes threatened. With a lot of support from SCAD and internal strength in the women they were able to overcome this. Now the men in the villages ask their wives to attend women’s meetings and participate in the group because they can see the difference it has made in their quality of life and income.
Secondly, about 10 years ago it was exceptionally rare for women to be local council members in local Panchayats (village level) to represent their village needs to higher levels of government. Now in the Tirunelveli district there are over 65 villages where women are local council members and are out spoken about the needs and development requirements of their villages. This has made a drastic improvement in the transparency of government and representation of marginalised people to higher levels of government.
We are exceptionally proud of all of these courageous women for taking the risks to improve the well being of all members of the villages. Please watch this video to see more about how our groups work.