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TOWARDS EMPOWERMENT: ATTITUDINAL & BEHAVIORAL CHANGES AMONG BENEFICIARIES AND FAMILY MEMBERS
As an extension of the study, Decent Employment for Women in India jointly implemented by the ILO (International Labour Organization) and the Directorate of Vocational Training for Women in the Ministry of Labour, it was decided to systematically assess the impact of the project on the social, family, and economic aspects of the life lives of the beneficiaries. The target populations of the project were economically backward women living in villages and urban slums in Delhi. For this purpose, Manas Foundation, a mental health organization, was commissioned to conduct a study on the impact of programme interventions on the beneficiaries and their families. The project tasks were defined as follows:
  • Interacting with NGO partners to understand the nature of work done and profiling the beneficiaries.
  • Studying the reports submitted by the NGOs on completion of the project.
  • Developing suitable questionnaires to tap the variables that needed to be assessed.
  • Devising the conduct of the project through:
  • Interviews
  • Focus Group Discussions
  • Liaising with the key persons within each NGO to coordinate the conduct of the study between the NGO staff, beneficiaries and families, and the team from Manas.
  • Conducting Focus Group Discussions and administering questionnaires, and systematically recording information gathered.
  • Analysis through appropriate statistical tests based on the nature of the data collected as advised by the statistician.
  • Submission of report and recommendations. 
Objectively verifiable indicators were selected, changes in which would reflect underlying changes in attitude and behaviour. This would, in turn, demonstrate the impact of the programme. Examples of the selected indicators were independence in deciding on disposal of income, participation in community activities and community decision-making, awareness legal rights at the workplace, awareness of health, hygiene and nutrition issues, etc. This information was collected through questionnaires, interviews and Focus Group Discussions with the NGO partners, women beneficiaries and their families, and community members.

This impact study shows that the process of training poor women undertaken in this project has triggered a process of attitudinal change of the women beneficiary, their families and the community, in many different ways. The changes have been both pronounced and subtle. The economic benefits of the training are perhaps easily evident in better health and education of their children and better living conditions for the family but what was also evident is the positive changes in their attitude and vision. 

A process of confidence building with in the women themselves seems to have started. Their increased ability to articulate their needs, as is evident, is an important aspect of their identity building. Their world has expanded and their confidence is soaring. In all the Focus Group Discussions, the women spoke of the livelihood related needs, improvement of infrastructure in the slum like electricity and drinking water tap and education for the children. Many women have started savings and building groups and associations.

Exposure to financial transaction and a feeling of contributing the families financial security has given the women a sense of confidence and improved their status, in varying degrees, within the household. Within the family, almost all women reported an increase in prestige within the household. Earlier I was not counted, now I have a say!

 
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