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Very often, we want to help other women, but don’t know how. Here are a few online and offline resources that offer support for women in different contexts.
Any feminist worth her salt, knows that the idea that “women are a woman’s worst enemy,” is a lie. Women often are the biggest sources of support and solace for other women.
Sometimes, providing that support lies completely in our hands. We can provide a listening ear, or a shoulder to lean on. We can spend money on women owned businesses, and spread the word about them. We can encourage, celebrate and cheer on.
Sometimes however, it is not as simple. We may not have the necessary knowledge or resources. Or, our social location and life experiences may diverge so much from theirs, that we may not truly understand what they are going through. At such times, we need to connect them to others who can support them best.
Here are a few contexts in which women may need help, and a list of organizations equipped with the necessary experience and know-how to do so. This is not a comprehensive list of contexts in which women may need support. Nor is this a list of every organization that works to support women – just a few that a quick google search reveals. To list every situation in which women may need help, or every resource/organization that can provide that help, is beyond the scope of this piece. However, please feel to respond in the comments about the sources that you know about that provide invaluable support for women.
The Saahas app/chatbot created by Kirthi Jayakumar, is a directory of support services and informational resources across 196 countries, and guidance notes on how bystanders can respond to gender-based violence.
There are many organizations across India which offer support to women who are survivors of domestic violence/abuse. Here is a list of some of them.
Given how sacred marriage is considered in India, divorce is still seen as a taboo, and often it is women who bear the brunt of it. However, there is an attempt now to create communities of support for women who are divorcees, and as this Women’s Web writer attests, they can be rather helpful.
I am Happily Divorced is one such support group moderated by Shasvati Siva.
Women who are divorced, widowed or have just chosen to remain single, are often faced with the challenge of being a single parent in a society that is always ready to judge them. Here too, support groups can help them to find solidarity and help.
This Women’s Web piece is a ready reckoner for single women who want to adopt a child.
Laila Zafar, a lawyer, has started The Village which offers online support to single parents and their children. Similarly, in cities at least, there are many single parent support groups that arrange meet ups and other activities.
For domestic workers in India, who are usually women, caste, class and gender interact to create particularly difficult challenges.
Organizations such as SEWA Delhi, Domestic Workers’ Rights Union in Bengaluru, and Nirmala Niketan, a domestic workers collective under the umbrella of Nirmana, provide support to women who are domestic workers, and empower them to advocate for themselves and their rights.
Dalit and Adivasi women are amongst the most vulnerable sections of our population, owing to their social location. Dalit Women Fight is a platform by and for Dalit women involved in supporting them in four major areas : survivor support, grassroots activism, leadership development and international advocacy. The Vellore based Thendral Movement, founded by agro-feminist Dr P Vedhanayagi, helps Dalit women with issues around land ownership, through training programmes, counselling, documentation and legal support.
The Inter-State Adivasi Women’s Network, works for the advancement of indigenous communities in India, with a focus on women and children. Formalization of the network is currently ongoing. The Assam based PAJHRA, aims to counter the marginalization of Adivasi women, by helping them assume leadership positions, by offering leadership training. Their women’s forum and a grievance forum, help women identify and prioritize strategies for the issues they face, including but not limited to, domestic violence, trafficking, land rights, girl child education, etc.
People belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community face a great deal of marginalization on a daily basis. For queer women, (lesbian, bisexual, trans women, and women who are aromantic/asexual), who must combat misogyny in addition to homophobia, the fight is tougher.
Nazariya is a feminist resource group with a focus on queer (diverse sexual orientations and gender identities) women and trans persons (transgender people, gender queer people or people who do not confirm to notions of gender assigned to them at birth). It strives to build awareness around gender, sexuality and sexual harassment, through seminars and workshops in universities and other organizations.
Sahodari, founded by activist, artist and writer, Kalki Subramaniam, has been working for social, economic and environmental justice for transgender people, gender queer people or people who do not confirm to notions of gender assigned to them at birth.
Indian Aces, which was founded in 2014, by Dr Pragati Singh, is not specific to women, but it offers support for and by ace and aspec people in India, including awareness, group/individual counselling, meetups etc.
Sex workers not only face extreme violence and deprivation, but often also don’t get the help they need, because of the stigma against sex work.
Prajwala, which has a pan India presence, works on prevention of trafficking, protection, rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of sex workers, by providing them with medical, psychological and legal support.
Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd, which is run by sex workers themselves, in West Bengal, helps its members achieve financial and economic independence, by providing low interest loans, and high interests on savings.
Apne Aap Women’s Collective, is an anti-trafficking organization, that serves the women and children of Kamathipura, and offers them resources that allow them to better their quality of life.
Entrepreneurship is rewarding, but it requires a lot of resources to undertake successfully, and for women entrepreneurs, this can be especially difficult as they have to navigate traditionally male dominated spaces to make their mark. Solidarity from other women can be a big step up in such situations.
The Breaking Barriers “workshop plus” events organized by Women’s Web are greast sources of support for women already running a business, as well as women who are just emraking in their entrepreneurial journey.
Iti Rawat created Women Entrepreneurs for Transformation – a support group and networking platform for women entrepreneurs, that organizes open mics, picthing competitions, marketing events etc.
HenIndia is another such network for Indian women entrepreneurs.
This article links to several funding schemes for women entrepreneurs in India.
Women returning to work after a break face many challenges but they are capable and committed. There are many corporate programmes nowadays, that help women get the upskilling or mentoring they need to make a smooth transition.
Reboot, founded by Anupama Kapoor and Gopika Kaul, helps women empower themselves through capacity building programmes. Through their Equal Half platform they also make an effort to engage men in conversations on gender equality.
Neha Bagaria founded JobsForHer, a job listing site, targeted towards women, especially women getting back to work after a break.
Orikalankini is a group that aims to explore issues around menstruation and sexuality, and reduce the stigma attached to them. TARSHI works towards expanding sexual and reproductive choices in people’s lives and is attempting to create safe, inclusive and sexually affirming (SISA) spaces.
There are even Facebook groups that allow women to find support for breastfeeding, taking care of curly hair etc. Online mommy groups in particular, can be a real lifeline for many.
Lakshmi Sarath’s harrowing experience living with endometriosis, and the support she received fro international support groups in dealing with the same, is what drove her to start Endometriosis Support –India, for women suffering from endometriosis and adhenomyosis.
After losing her husband to COVID-19, Dr Rajani Jagtap started ‘Staying Alive’ to offer support to others like her, who are dealing with grief.
Women’s Web publishes many articles on a regular basis, which offer support to women. This sensitive post by writer Paromita Bardoloi about life as a single woman is a great example. This post by author Kiran Manral, offers a look into the lives of women with postpartum depression, and offers helpful tips. Similarly, this post is a helpful guide on how to support a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer; and this one about polycystic kidney disease is just as informative.
Some women, especially the most vulnerable, are still underserved. We can offer our support for women indirectly, by donating to or volunteering for the few organizations that serve them, allowing them to widen their reach. We must petition the central and local government bodies to adopt policies and create the infrastructure necessary to support women.
Image source: arvndvisual on Pixabay
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