Monday, November 12, 2007

Vikalp's Profile

'Vikalp' suggests an 'alternative' to the existing social structure marked by discrimination, violence and unequal opportunities. Vikalp is a Barmer based organization that works in seven districts of western Rajasthan viz. Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jalore, Pali, Sirohi and Bikaner with the commitment to create a violence free society based on equity, peace and justice.

Vikalp was registered in 2004 by a group of youths with considerable experience of working in social organizations, leadership building, issue based work, advocacy, lobbying and management. Their understanding and involvement in issues related to sensitisation of the civil society, empowerment, sustainable development, literacy and gender equity drove them to work with the youth and create agents of change to combat the disparaging forces of the society. They committed themselves to articulate the needs of the youth with their integrity, accountability and perseverance.

To create a violence free society based on equity, peace and justice.
Ø Physical and Mental freedom for all.
Ø Freedom from gender violence.
Ø Equal opportunity.
Ø Freedom from discrimination.

To create a platform where the youth can voice their opinion and integrate their voice with the process of social development thereby augmenting their capacities and co-creating enabling opportunities for their meaningful participation.

Who and Why youth?
Vikalp identified people between the age group 11-30 years as youth as this is the formative period in a person's life and influences her/him deeply. It is the youth who can act as change makers and bring development in the dark side of the society.

Area of work
Western Rajasthan is the chosen area of work as it is:
Ø Backward in terms of development.
Ø A desert having scarcity of resources.
Ø Close to the international border with Pakistan.
Ø Devoid of government intervention.
Ø Lacking initiative for self-development.
Ø Marked by social problems like the rigid caste system, illiteracy, female infanticide, violence against women, dowry etc.

Ø Self-articulation by the Youth-Promoting sum total Personality development of youth.
Ø Influencing the Civil Society and Media-Creating a conducive environment for creative thinking.
Ø Append the Development processes-to promote accessibility, quality and integrity of development.
Ø Peace and Harmony-Youth involvement to promote equity, justice and peace.

Focus Area

'WE CAN'- Campaign
'We Can' is a South Asia Regional Campaign that aims to end all violence against women and is supported by Oxfam (India) Trust. Six countries in South Asia and thirteen states in India are active partners of this campaign.
Vikalp under the banner of 'We Can' works in seven districts of Western Rajasthan. Rajasthan reflects a patriarchal society where women are denied of their basic rights and are exposed to all forms of violence- cultural, social and economic from womb to tomb.
Vikalp, through awareness building aims to uplift the status of women and make them aware of their rights and instill courage in them to say 'no' to violence. The awareness building activities attempt to actively involve men in the entire process so as to understand and raise questions on violence against women and provide alternatives to end this violence that is not just an individual issue but a social problem. Incumbent campaigns on women fail to engage men into the issue and this in turn fails to sensitize the society as a whole. Vikalp’s agenda on gender equity is to work with men and women on issues that concern the well-being of the society as a whole.
We work towards capacity building of our alliance members to create a common platform of understanding by encouraging youth to participate in the campaign so that they can act as agents of change and gradually eliminate violence against women from the society. Through media advocacy we sensitize the mass to support the campaign and help in creating a 'violence-free zone'.

Books are mirror to the world outside and education ensures sum total development of an individual’s personality. The literacy level in Rajasthan is dismal as schools are scarce and children have to commute long distances to attend school, which withdraws them from the education system. The culture of educating the girl child is almost absent.
Vikalp, supported by Room to Read, New Delhi took the initiative to generate community consciousness towards the existing educational system by building and reviving the concept of libraries.
Vikalp has set up 21 libraries across 7 panchayats of Barmer viz. Haathma, Siyadi, Derasar, Khadin, Indroi, Jasai and Makadi with three libraries in each panchayat, two of them being run in the school premises and one being managed by the community. The library is an opportunity for students to develop the habit of reading, which is the most popular means of information for the masses in rural areas. The library provides a platform for the development of analytical skills by conducting a number of creative and innovative activities like storytelling, bal sabha, bal panchayat, street plays, making magazines, news bulletins and comics, art and craft, writing and telling folk tales and co-operative gaming thereby leading to a fun filled and joyous way of learning that would ensure overall development of the children.

Female foeticide and Sex Determination
Vikalp primarily focuses on issues concerning women and the girl child in Rajasthan. This agenda is supported by CFAR, IFES and USAID. Statistics reveal a declining trend in the sex ratio in Rajasthan that has dropped from 919 females per thousand males in 1991 to just 909 females per thousand males in 2001.
Women, for generations have been discriminated on grounds of nutrition, education, economically-where they are denied of their share in ancestral property, forced to do laborious work, are kept away from the process of decision-making and are subjected to an undignified life. The above compels parents to opt for a son who not only will propagate the generation but also has the right to perform the rites and rituals framed by society. Rural India adopts cruel methods to crush the life of the newborn girl child and urban India adopts sophisticated ones like sex determination leading to female foeticide.
Vikalp’s vision of justice induces them to end this violence against the girl child and their activities involve generating awareness amongst government officials, doctors, medical practitioners, PRI members and members of the civil society e.g. doctors have been given the responsibility of enforcing the PCPNDT act and report any violation of the same to the concerned authorities.

Women's health
Women in Rajasthan do not have access to basic health benefits and lack vital knowledge of sanitation. As a result their basic, reproductive and sexual health is severely affected leading to a high maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR). Scarcity of water compels women to fetch water from long distances to cater to the need of the family, in the process neglecting her basic need of hygiene by not bathing for days.
Vikalp brought up issues like RTI, STI, Maternal health, Reproductive and Sexual Health, Family Planning under the banner of Rashtriya Pairvi Evam Sanchar Karyakram and collected 40 case studies of women whose health had been affected for the past two years. We attempt to address these issues through public dialogue on service delivery, awareness generation amongst doctors and members of the civil society and work in close co-ordination with the media to voice the views.

Water and sanitation
Water in Barmer is scarce and people are unaware of the techniques for conservation of water. Vikalp, through various mediums like nukkad natak, posters etc. have been able to influence the local populace of their project area to keep their tankas clean in order to protect themselves from various water-borne diseases (malaria) that thrive in accumulated water. The project is supported by Cairn Energy to promote construction and maintenance of tankas to resolve their water-related problems.

Campaign for the Rights of the Girl Child (Aapani Dikari Ro Haq)
Girls are deprived of their basic rights not only from the world outside but within the family itself. It is a journey of deprivation that begins from sex determination, female foeticide and infanticide and is carried on with the denial of their right to nutrition, education, health and economic security throughout her life. They are subjected to evils like domestic violence, dowry-death and marital rape. Women live a life of social, economic and fundamental oppression.
Vikalp attempts to create an environment where both girls and boys are valued and respected equally. This is a grave social problem, which we all have to identify and find alternatives. People have to be aware of this problem, raise questions and seek solutions at a collective level. Vikalp, through rallies and marches has been successful in bringing together young children and village youth as agents of change to transform the existing structure of discrimination.
We are supporting 10 girls by educating them and preparing for their board exams and taking care of their basic needs within our office premises. We have mobilized local funds to educate these girls and build a better future for them and their families by making them realize the importance of the girl child and nurturing the belief in them that given a chance, even girls can fulfill their and their parents’ dreams.

Trainings imparted on Gender, Violence, PRI, Media Advocacy and Youth capacity building
Members of Vikalp use their skill to generate awareness, build capacity of individuals and organizations and also fund raising to support the ongoing activities of Vikalp.

Vikalp, by sensitizing the youth, questions the existing condition of the society and provides an alternative to the problems that maime it. We focus on the well being of every individual especially women and girls. The journey has just begun and we have a long way to go in the direction of an egalitarian society based on justice, equity and peace.