We were a motley group of five women bonded with a feminist vision to “change the world”, we lived and learnt how the “personal is political”. We created spaces without a building, where women come together to share their joys and sorrows. No one was too small or too powerful, we learnt that empowerment meant enabling others. The concept of “Sabla Sanghs”(Women Empowered), gave birth to women’s collectives. Subversively changing the unequal power relations in the family with new ways of assertion, we spoke a new language of freedom and justice for all. Women spoke out on violence, deprivation and denial, to be as we wished to seek our own identity and selfhood. There is nothing inebriating as the notion of freedom and autonomy and creating that space is our mission.
Developing as a community based organization, Action India founded in 1976, has taken many big and small path breaking initiatives led by grassroots women. Sustained balance between community mobilization and the universal struggle for women’s rights, protesting discrimination as we created alternative modes of self-help, self-assertion at the individual and the collective level. This gives us the confidence to claim women’s agency in the process of social transformation.
A gender perspective on SRHR gives us the knowledge and understanding to educate marginalized women to take control over their body. Our connection with adolescent girls “Chotee Sablas”, broke many social norms using the forum to dialogue on gender and sexuality. Making informed choices empowering girls to rise through education for equality.
“Mahila Panchayats”, a community based redressal mechanism to address gender based violence and the collective strength of women’s courts to stops violence in the home is recognized. Access to the law is the major challenge as women seek protection under the PWDVA,2005.
Over forty years, Action India worked to strengthen democratic institutions by enhancing the participation of women as citizens to claim their rights and entitlements, to public health and civic services to better the environment and quality of life of the urban poor.
Our Vision – A Gender Just Egalitarian Society
Community organization is an essential component of Action India’s multi-pronged approach to promote women’s agency engaging with wider forums at the national level, strengthening networks to influence laws and policies to include the poor and marginalized, particularly women and girls.
– Gouri Choudhury