Once the community gets involved, the numbers and level of participation rises.
So a lot of our work starts by engaging the community. We engage local volunteers who have the trust of the community to influence the changes we seek and are passionate about change.
Once the badlao didi, or women who can create change, are able to influence peers and community leaders by demonstrating how change is beneficial for them, the change happens faster.
A big part of the community work involves creating awareness about the public services available to the community. But oftentimes, the community has very little awareness of what programs the state is supposed to deliver, so they never demand it.
Awareness helps create the demand for services, which in turn puts pressure on state agents to deliver the services. The participation of the community is also vital in ensuring we are able to start shifting the perception on gender rights. Once women become change agents, they are able to demand better rights for the next generation of women and for themselves.
This shift from extreme gender bias is gradual and uneven, but it is continuous. With greater community ownership and participation girls get to access school, better sanitation, awareness of the public programs available to them which encourages girls to go to school and offers assistance to women in need
With functional literacy, women gain greater financial and social independence and are more accepted as equals in the community.
The community participation and ownership results in Anganwadis that are better run, roads that get built, access to toilets and drinking water, better hygiene, access to primary care centres and to state schemes for funding and assistance be that in farming or training or livelihoods.
For all this to happen the services must be driven by collective action.That, and peer pressure, goes a long way in ensuring accountability of the services and goods meant for the community.