The federated structure of the Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society – JEEViKA has emerged as a critical component with the potential of reaching more women effectively and building robust women-led institutions. It has played vital role in reaching women from vulnerable sections to improve their livelihood and accessibility to economic entitlements and schemes including creating awareness and opportunities about savings, credit, and livelihood. Women’s self-help groups (SHGs) have been acclaimed as effective platforms for generating awareness about discriminatory practices and social issues and facilitating the community members in resolving them. SHGs are federated into Village Organizations (VO) and Cluster Level Federations (CLF) with an aim to increase women’s participation in governance, and create a platform to improve women’s social, health, and economic empowerment.
Gender mainstreaming has been promoted within the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojna-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM), the poverty alleviation initiative by the Government of India. However, ‘gender awareness’ and ‘sensitisations’ among system actors and their egalitarian attitudes play critical role in the support seeking behaviour of women, even among the federation members. JEEViKA in partnership with Centre for Catalysing Change (C3) initiated the gender integration program in Bihar which includes setting up of physical space called ‘Sajha Shakti Kendra’, developing gender forums at the panchayat level and strengthening the capacity of community-based organizations and their sub committees with a focus on Social Action Committee (SAC).
The intervention approach has been designed to bring about positive changes among the community members through system and community level institutions. The system level approach aims at improving awareness on gender aspects and integrating gender lens across JEEViKA activities, strategies, and departments. The other approach delineates intervention through community level institutions with the objective to strengthen community to support women empowerment and gender issues, such as, child marriage, Gender-Based Violence (GBV), and access to social entitlements.
The PopulationCouncil Consulting (PCC) is a learning partner with support from Centre for Catalyzing Change and conducting a mixed-method evaluation to examine the effectiveness and processes of the intervention. The evaluation included a quasi-experimental design and follow-up survey with members of VO/CLF SAC members; understanding the perspectives of JEEViKA staff/ program managers and community staff/cadres; and document the process of SAC meetings and capacity building trainings. These trainings are targeted to modify VO/SAC members’ attitudes and awareness around gender roles, access to social entitlements, girls’ education and child marriage, women and girls’ agency, and gender-based violence and redressal mechanisms.
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