In Sahiyar’s mission to empower women and girls in Baroda, organizers facilitate activities around awareness programmes, supporting women against violence and injustice, work with adolescent girls, youth groups, religious support and leadership for peace and justice. Sahiyar’s awareness programs are expansive and far reaching. Most campaigns generate awareness on gender-based violence, such as rape, sex-selective abortion, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. Many of Sahiyar’s campaigns draw participation in Baroda and at the state level to press for amendments in laws that are hostile to women. Organizers compose street plays, awareness songs, garbas (Gujarati folk dances), poster exhibitions, and film shows as mediums to address large numbers in the community. Sahiyar’s other public awareness raising tactics have included demonstrations, public meetings, rallies, wall paintings, and human chains, to attract immediate attention to urgent issues of violence or atrocity. Sahiyar’s consciousness raising groups foster education through discussions, essay-writing events, workshops on current issues and awareness training camps. Organizers survey and research significant cases of violence against women in addition to human rights violations across Baroda. Sahiyar researchers have produced educational trainings around their findings on sex determination and sex-selective abortions, communal violence and its effect on women, women in the informal sector, and problems faced by adolescent girls. Sahiyar also publishes and disseminates leaflets, pamphlets, booklets, newsletters, and training material on issues concerning women. Sahiyar library ooks on women’s issues are available to the public in English, Hindi and Gujarati. Sahiyar’s mission draws NGO workers, government servants, police officers, legal professionals, teachers, lawyers, trade unionists to hold training programmes, workshops and seminars for ordinary citizens to sensitize them about gender issues and help them incorporate a gender sensitive attitude in their respective fields. Sahiyar organizers also facilitate ad hoc workshops for requesting groups around concepts of gender, patriarchy, the history of India’s women’s movement, communalism, songs of the women’s movements, street theatre, gender-based violence, and legal rights. Sahiyar also offers organizations the opportunity to learn to conduct their own trainings.
Violence Prevention and Advocacy
When women face injustice, discrimination and violence from family, community or at the workplace, Sahiyar offers counselling, legal advice, and emotional and moral support.
Operating from a restorative justice model, Sahiyar facilitates conflict resolution with mutually acceptable conditions if the complainant woman wishes so. If the woman wants to register a police complaint or file a court case, Sahiyar provides guidance and support for that. More recently, Sahiyar advocates have handled cases dealing with domestic violence, dowry demands and dowry death,child custody rights, recovery of ‘Streedhan’, parental harassment, sexual assault and property rights.
Work with Adolescent Girls
At a crucial time in their physical, mental and emotional development, many adolescent girls lack the education needed to understand the transitions they experience during puberty. Social and familial restrictions prevent girls from seeking information during this confusing time. Sahiyar organizes group discussions and individual counseling for girls in their schools and with dropout girls in the community to address their concerns. Sahiyar offers short-term computer courses and courses in mehendi to help girls develop skills that can help them sustain their futures. Sahiyar also provides an important link between girls at-risk of dropping out of school for economic reasons and those who wish to contribute scholarships towards their continued education.
Sahiyar houses a youth center for the sole purpose of providing a learning space for self-development. This is a brand new initiative.
At Sahiyar, poor and low-income women come together to discuss the problems everyday life. Sahiyar organizes discussions on current issues, film screenings and other cultural activities during these meetings. They also provide information on various government relief programs, the availability of trainings, education and employment opportunities in private or government institutions.
Women’s Leadership for Peace and Justice
Sahiyar operates in the eastern parts of Baroda, where the major slum areas are located. Women in this vicinity come from different communities and with Sahiyar, spread the message of equality and communal harmony. These women train with us to assume leadership roles in their communities, calling themselves “Buland Awaz” (Women For Peace and Justice) and actively spreading awareness about rights and empowering other women in their neighbourhood.