The women sanchalakis who have taken over the leadership of JMS
Consolidating JMS – Expanding the steering committee of the Sanghatan
On 8th March 2016, while marking the International Working Women’s Day, JMS brought together 80 women from nine panchayat areas who selected a total of 30 new members to the Sanchalana Samiti or the Steering committee. JMS film ‘Footsteps’ was screened and old as well as new activists continued some of the deliberations from the Convention on the need to expand and sharpen one’s actions on various issues particularly on the issue of violence against women. This is seen as a crucial first step. Old members of the steering committee are entrusted with the responsibility of involving the new members in everyday activities and decision-making within the sanghatan. A three-day residential workshop is being planned for all the Steering Committee members for focused reflection on challenges confronting the sanghatan, their own roles and responsibilities, principles of the sanghatan and working together.
Women from JMS: Inspiring and teaching others to undertake sangharsh and nirman (struggle and reconstruction): Women from JMS have emerged as leaders in their own right, not merely in their villages but as an inspiration for several others to emulate and follow. In February 2016, Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali invited Chinnamma from JMS to be a resource person for their Health as Human rights Workshop for activists working in slums from seven districts of Karnataka. Chinnamma shared JMS experience of keeping a constant vigil on the local government facilities from PHC level to district level. She described the important mechanisms of community participation within the public health system, the VHSCs and ARS, their composition, formation and role. She described how they were able to mobilize sangha women around health rights issues. She also stressed that it was important to maintain good relations with staff while also ensuring that they responded to people’s issues. She taught participants a health rights song Kunta janagale ninta managale which urges people to strengthen the public health system to claim their health rights and save health care from getting commoditized. She was able to enthuse them that making changes in the public health system was possible.
JMS team was invited by Sarvodya Rural Development Project in Aland taluk of Kalburgi district to anchor a two –day workshop for their rural women volunteers from the lambani community. A team of six women from JMS anchored the two-day workshop on 4th -5th March 2016 that combined singing, sharing personal stories of struggle, discussing JMS’ experience of collectivization and how it changed their life trajectories, the skills they learnt over time and the urgent need for the poor and vulnerable to collectivize and the need to question and raise one’s voice against injustice and reclaim one’s share of public resources such as in health, education, work and so on. The participants were at once able to connect with JMS women’s narratives and were awestruck by the fact that women ‘like us’ who were non—literate and poor were so articulate, confident and spoke like any other activist. Following this workshop, women volunteers requested that JMS women return the next month to help them plan their actions on MGNREGS and health.
Managed by local leadership for transparent governance and enhanced ownership, the coordination committee of JMS also called the Sanchalana Samiti is responsible for the on-going work and takes decisions on important policy matters. This team is elected by the women themselves as representatives of JMS. The programme team of local youth form the core staff-activists who execute the work and they support the Sanchalana Samiti. Then from the community are the Honorary (Gaurava) Sanchalakis or women volunteers who work at the field level. The Sanchalakis are the women leaders (volunteers) from communities who give full-time to work for the women’s collective. JMS works in two (sub-divisions) Talukas namely Sindhanur and Manvi of Raichur District covering 12 village Panchayats. From each village two women leaders are nominated by their sanghas to represent the village unit in the meetings. Annually two or three meetings of these representatives are facilitated at Pothnal. Larger issues of sanghatan, policies, difficulties and constraints are discussed at this meeting.
Sanchalana Samiti (JMS Coordination Committee)
1. Smt. Chinnamma, President elected in 2009;
2. Smt. Lakshmi, Vice President, elected in 2009;
3. Smt Sunandamma, Member
4. Smt. Narasamma, Member
1. Devaputhra, a local youth activist working full time since 10 years.
2. Susheelamma, a local youth activist working full time since 9 years.
3. Kariappa, a local farmer working as agriculture assistant and in mobilising communities
Sanchalakis (The women leaders)
1. Mariyamma Malkapura
2. Chandramma Gonvara
3. Ruthamma- Kharabadinni
Karyakari samiti : Consists of two women each nominated from every Gram Panchayat and meets often.
6. Chilipili Child Labourers’ Special School
7. Chiguru Livelihood Enterprise (consists products – Terracotta Jewellery and Neem fertiliser)
- E. Premdas Pinto, Human Rights Advocate – Co-initiator of JMS continues to mentor JMS in perspective building and JMS strategising
- Dr. Akhila Vasan – Mentors the core work of JMS, viz. health rights campaign and campaign on violence against women.
- Dr. M. Bhagyalakshmi – Through SAKHI organisation, a lot of adminstrative and organisational support and mentoring is offered to JMS