Partner in focus: The Srijan Foundation

All We Can has supported the Srijan Foundation since 2013. It works with marginalised tribal women in Jharkhand to find new ways to earn an income and overcome the challenges of poverty and discrimination. © All We Can/Laura Cook

All We Can has supported the Srijan Foundation since 2013. It works with marginalised tribal women in Jharkhand in India to find new ways to earn an income and overcome the challenges of poverty and discrimination.

The poverty gap

India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is classed as a middle income country by the World Bank. India’s recent economic success has been impressive, but has not translated into a higher quality of life for all of its one billion people. This is especially true for tribal people living in rural areas. The Srijan Foundation work with tribal communities in Jharkhand, one of India’s poorest states. Jharkhand is also one of the toughest places to live in the world if you are female. Many women, in comparison to men, will struggle to access education, have limited control over their lives, and potentially experience discrimination and domestic violence.

Claiming rights

All We Can’s partner, the Srijan Foundation, raises awareness of women’s rights and gender discrimination, and provides training on leadership, decision-making and advocacy. With this support, women from these communities are now able to voice their opinions, take greater control of their lives, and even take positions of responsibility in local affairs. Changing ingrained views and practices in a community is hard and risky, but through self help groups, the women are able to share their stories and gain mutual support and encouragement.

New opportunities

Women are also provided with opportunities to develop ways of earning money so that they can support their families financially. The Srijan Foundation provides women with training in animal husbandry so that they can breed small animals to then sell for a profit.

Rani’s story

Rani Devi lives in Orla District, Jharkhand with her husband and his family. She is part of a Self-Help Group (SHG) set up by the Srijan Foundation. As part of this group she has received training in women’s rights. Her group has also set up a small pig breeding business with support from the Srijan Foundation.

She explains, “We woman have come together and it is a support to us because all of the women are there and we can talk to each other. Previously we did not even go out of the house! Now we are not scared to talk.

Now when I say something I know there are ten other women sitting with me supporting me. All of the women in the SHG want me to stand as one of the nominees in the local elections. If I get elected I will do something better for the women in this village.”

14 women work together to look after the pigs that they breed for sale at the market. Prior to this Rani and many of the other women had not left their home to work. She now feels able to contribute to her family as a result of the enterprise. She says, “Now a lot of value has been given to me in the family by my husband and my in-laws. If my husband is not able to work for a day I can still pay for the school fees for the children of the house”.

Find out more about the work of the Srijan Foundation by watching this short film about the visit of Vice-President of Methodist Conference Jill Barber to Jharkhand in November 2015.