“Liberation: Not a gift, not a self-achievement, but a mutual process” – Paulo Freire
Women and Children health is directly linked with empowerment of women. We, at EKAM Foundation, have been striving for women transformation from “Being for Others’ to “Being for Themselves’. Our Community Change Management process has been enabling the women for doing away with the ‘victim inside.’ ‘The victim inside’ never allows us for any sort of celebration. The resistance for change comes from the victim inside. The victim inside always pulls us back from enjoying the freedom of expression and celebration. It prevents us from performing our democratic responsibilities such as confrontation, taking part in dialogue and decision making processes. Doing away with the victim inside, therefore, is necessary to exhibit women capabilities to their fullest potential. The leader inside awakens only when the victim inside disappears. The victim inside may disappear organically during the process of life at any stage; it may not disappear also. ‘The Time’ has the power to heal all most all the psychic wounds. It can also be done through conscious and concerted human efforts. EKAM Foundation’s Community work strategically focuses on empowering women for celebration of life.
‘The Women-in-Empowerment’ at the village level along with other friends of the change process are functioning as ‘Community of Change Practitioners.’ The Community of change practitioners are being trained for ejecting the image of ‘marginalized identity’ and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. They work under the principles that “freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.”
Our initiatives to empower women have begun with multi-pronged approach. We have been interacting with women group members and found that most of the women ‘do not feel proud of themselves.’ Some of the aspects that they feel proud of themselves are also directly or indirectly favoring the ‘men folk’. For instance, one woman responded by saying ‘she feels proud of herself as a woman as she is able to meet all the expectations of her husband.’ The Women identity has made them to be servants to their masters (males). This marginalized identity has direct impact on preventing women from taking active and subjective and rights based participation in decision making process of ‘I – WE – US.’ How can a woman participate in decision making processes when she feels marginalized at home and society?
We started our process of ‘women empowerment’ by involving women in ‘the process of reimagining her identity.’ This has been the process through which women feel more and more proud of themselves as individuals and as a collective. Reimagining the identity is a persistent process of struggle, this process also painful. But the women of some of our reference hamlets have courage to undergo this process.
Women of our operational hamlets have begun to reimaging their aspirations in favour of themselves. They are gradually able to negotiate and confront wherever necessary for moving away from ‘Being for Others’ to “Being for Themselves”. This transformation process is contributing for reducing IMR and MMR as it ensures nutritional security for both mothers and children.