ED’s Message

In the past four decades we have witnessed considerable progress among rural women in Andhra Pradesh

Those who could not own even a rupee of their own despite working as much as men today have their own savings bank accounts and are able to operate different micro-enterprises successfully.

Women were traditionally not the inheritors of any property but, today, a majority of them have come to be owners of permanent houses built by either the government or RDT. In recent years, the SHG movement in Andhra Pradesh gained momentum as these could consolidate the strength of women and place them at the forefront of development. They serve as a common platform for not only identifying and discussing issues concerning the development of women, but also for dealing with these issues individually as well as collectively.

The emphasis on girls’ education resulted in 100% enrolment of girls in primary schools but strict vigilance is needed to see that they fnish at least secondary education and are not compelled to get married before reaching 18 years of age.

“RDT is very much committed to gender equality and to working towards a just and caring society free from gender-based violence. “

Its consistent efforts towards seeing women in diversifed employment positions across the organisation resulted in increasing the percentage of women staff from under 10% in 1994 to 43% in 2014. There has also been a considerable increase in the number of women in leadership positions. RDT has also constituted an internal complaints committee consisting of 4 women and 1 man to deal with any cases of sexual harassment faced by working women within the organisation.

In the past few years, RDT has concentrated on building a team which can work on the most critical concerns related to gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence against women and girls. These concerns include early marriages, sexual traffcking, foeticide, infanticide and deep-rooted customs also prevalent in different parts of India. It is a challenging task to build up teams at the organisational and community level in the villages so as to persistently tackle this enormous problem. RDT began by focusing on sensitizing adolescent boys/youth on the subject of gender-based inequalities, discriminations and violence since dealing with women alone in this area may not yield fruitful results.

The shelter home started by RDT in 2012 is slowly becoming well-known across the district and has thus far sheltered 64 girls and women who had faced some form of violence or rejection at their homes. Strengthening Social Action Teams and Community-based Organisations (CBOs), as well as equipping the facilitation and counselling skills of teams set up by RDT for dealing with violence against women and girls, will be an important priority in the years to come. We are optimistic of our efforts which will always be carried out in the best interests of the people and, moreover, will involve them in their own socioeconomic transformation.

Anne Ferrer