Weekly self-help group (SHG) meetings conducted by our grassroots women leaders and attended by poor women workers, is the foundation of all our work. To make the community interactions more engaging, LEARN grassroots leaders also rely on songs, games, music, dance and fun-fair gatherings to sustain the interest of women. These meetings serve as an unwinding space that allow poor women to share and learn from each other. They come together to discuss and resolve their workplace and personal grievances, provide each other suggestions and support, inform each other about the new happenings in their workplaces and communities, explore new ideas for their personal and professional development, and share information about government schemes and development of their SHGs.
Regular community interaction makes our collective transparent, and they make our grassroots leaders accountable to and responsible for the members. The grassroots leaders then devise strategies and action plans based on the specific needs and demands of the women in the community.
SELF HELP GROUPS
LEARN has 926 self-help groups (SHGs) of women in slums, with 11-20 members in each group. Each SHG functions as the main 'unit' for inputs of all kinds. SHG members elect their representatives periodically, and the elected representatives are responsible for and accountable to the members for their SHG bank accounts, skills training, capacity building workshops, thematic growth within sectors, collective campaigns and advocacy on various gender issues. Being part of a group, women feel empowered to approach government offices, and to demand due process in police stations, ration offices, courts, and from employers. In 2017, LEARN Nashik began collectivising differently-abled women in SHGs, in an attempt to create awareness about the specific skill-upgradation and livelihood opportunities required for these groups. After rigorous fieldwork, 30 groups of the 600 differently-abled have been created, which receive government entitlements in their SHG bank accounts.