Other Projects: Ankur Kala reaches out to women beyond its training programmes

The Rural Networking Programme
There is increasing need to extend our training programme to benefit the young and vulnerable girls and women living in rural West Bengal, many of whom become victims of domestic abuse and the flesh trade. Appeals are coming from various quarters, to provide vocational training and a marketing infrastructure to help this group to achieve economic and social empowerment.

Saving the Girl Child from Trafficking and HIV/AIDS
In the year 2005, Ankur Kala took another important initiative to reach out to the numerous girl children and teenagers living in the villages of West Bengal who were becoming victims of trafficking and HIV/AIDS. Ankur Kala has started a number of pilot programmes at Lakshmikantapur in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, in the field of vocational skill training and non-formal education for drop out girls.

Community Improvement through Women's empowerment
We are also studying the various ways in which we can effectively participate in community based education and skill training programmes for girl children at the village level, to enhance girl's educational capacity and skills and thereby discourage their parents from forcing them into early marriage or sending them away to the city to work. Our initial response to this has been starting a networking programme with rural groups through which vocational and marketing training is provided. This is the first step in creating a more sustainable community by encouraging initiatives in Organic farming, kitchen gardening, rainwater harvesting, as well as initiatives like community health, literacy and housing.

Noted agriculturalist Ribul Haque, with our rural women, starting a kitchen gardening project.
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Social Empowerment: Going Beyond Self-reliance
In 1990 an in-depth evaluation of Ankur Kala’s self-employment training and income generation programmes revealed a startling fact – achieving economic self-reliance alone was not sufficient to empower marginalised women to stand up for their rights and dignity. Though the women were looked upon as bread earners for their families, their lives were firmly controlled by others in their families and society, thus preventing them from breaking free from social prejudices and growing into self-confident persons striving to live with dignity and hope.

To confront this challenge we added a new aspect to Ankur Kala’s training programme – providing training in social empowerment through regular inputs in functional literacy, leadership skills, social awareness and gender issues. Introducing this dimension of social empowerment into Ankur Kala’s training programme has infused a new dynamism among the women trainees. It has been very encouraging to observe that most of the women first come to Ankur Kala full of despair and insecurities and then slowly transform first into self-reliant persons through economic self-reliance (earning their own income, holding bank accounts) and then grow into supervisors and leaders prepared to motivate and help others and become agents of social change.

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Ankur Kala is a registered charity, in Calcutta, India.