The Association of Strong Women Alone for Widows and Separated Women : Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
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Widows Separated Women

A mass membership based
state-wide organization
of low income widows
and separated women
in Rajasthan, India,
who organized
and aware -
are on the move.


We Will Meet Any Difficulties Large or Small
We Will Not Wait for Anyone,
By Our Own Strength We Will Overcome

Objectives

The Need for Such an Association

For centuries, the lives of widows in India have been marked by exclusion, marginalization and cruel caste and  community customs. Low-income widows have even less opportunities to improve their lives and live with dignity. Low  educational levels of women in the country, widespread patriarchal values, lack of organization of the widows  themselves, have meant that the condition of widows in India has gone unnoticed.

I t  is reported that 8% of all females in India are widows – a number of about 56,000,000 in 2008! Not all are deprived  of a life of dignity, but probably more than half are! Still not a small number, and when other “women alone” – those  divorced, abandoned, thrown out by their husbands are added on, one could say that the numbers are at least about  10% of all women in India.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) was a social reformer who influenced the status of widows, and Gandhi promoted  widows’ right to live a life with dignity, but there are not many others in the list, and society has been slow to change.
There are some government entitlements, like widow pensions, but low-income, poorly educated widows find it hard to  access these resources on their own. And in most states, there is no pension for “separated” women.

Something needed to be done. What was needed was not more ashrams, but an organization of widows and  separated  women helping each other and fighting for their rights. And so, in January 2000, the Rajasthan  Association of Strong  Women Alone was formed, and at present (December 2008) has over 26,299 members across  28  Districts of the state,  and is still growing.

The Mission of the Association

Enabling low-income “women alone” to build an organization through which the members, working together, change  their physical, mental, family, social, cultural, economic, political and legal status so that each one becomes an  empowered citizen of the country, leading a dignified life of quality.

This process of struggle will bring strength within  themselves, and will lead to a stronger society. All this will only be possible if the women are organized, and work  together.


Objectives of the Association

1. To ensure the right to a life of dignity and respect for “women alone”
2. To ensure the right to land and property, and to be free from atrocities
3. To communicate to all “women alone” and to the society at large, that widows and separated women are strong women!
4. To establish coordination amongst the members of the Association, so that each member helps other members in times of need.
5. To change the cruel caste and community customs that marginalize “women alone”
6. To work for implementation and access of the schemes and laws that can help the “women alone”
7. To lobby the government, to make more and better laws, rules and schemes that will benefit “women alone”
8. To try to gain access to programmes that will strengthen their economic position and increase their income.