We live in in a very contradictory moment on time and history. On the one hand processes of globalization are opening up new “opportunities” for vulnerable and marginalized communities as for instance greater mobility and choice for women and Dalits who have been prisoners of patriarchal and caste restrictions. On the other hand, it has also created new vulnerabilities and violence. The loss of livelihoods and lands for instance as a result of industrialization and corporatization of agriculture has resulted in large scale exodus into cities where rural communities live in degraded slums with no sustainable employment. Women particularly end up in vulnerable and exploitative working conditions as in domestic work, garment industry, sex work etc which are either devalued or stigmatized making them more vulnerable to economic and sexual exploitation.
Those who stay back are pushed into greater impoverishment and different forms of violence the brunt of which is borne by the women inside their homes that are becoming hells of insecurity. In the rural and semi urban communities where SIEDS works for instance due to the impact of the land mafia, lack of sustainable and meaningful livelihood and an increasingly aspirational society one also sees a greater criminalization and alienation among the youth. The older fault lines of caste, class, religion and gender continue to deepen and divide our communities even as they are systematically deployed by those in power to perpetuate their politics of control and hegemony.
However when working in communities one realizes that while this is one reality the other is of a quieter and more invisible resistance and resilience – drawing upon and building on more healing, regenerative and transformative ways of dealing with conflict, disharmony and injustice.
It is in this context that the Collective locates its work with different communities – in terms of geographies, social marginalization and diversity. The vision is to be part of community rebuilding processes around notions of a more inclusive and plural humanity, democracy, culture and economy.
While some interventions might be common, the work in each community also evolves in response to the local context, needs and dynamics. Specifically, the work revolves around:
Facilitating spaces of solidarity and support: for women and youth to dialogue, engage, debate and respond to issues of violence, discrimination and marginalization. This would include crisis intervention, counselling and legal intervention whenever required
Facilitating basic social entitlements and rights: by acting as a bridge between the administration and the community focusing on issues like land and housing rights, universal education and primary health, social security, right to food and nutrition, sustainable livelihoods of the particularly marginalised communities
Amplifying voices: from the community into broader networks of social justice and rights to strengthen and deepen the impact of the latter
Initiating conversations: with youth and vulnerable communities on their realities and dreams through cinema and other creative forms of media and communication like theatre, posters and painting
Strengthening the knowledge base: of diverse communities through action research and documentation
Engaging with institutions of local governance: to ensure the participation of the most marginalized communities in the democratic process as for instance organising all women gram Sabha to address issues on VAW and youth
Facilitating self organized groups: of those communities who have initiated their own groups like the Hakki Pikki and Iruliga Tribal Society that has come together to work on their land and livelihood rights on the edges of Bannerghatta National Park; or that of women farmers who have come together to articulate for and access their rights
Skill building and learning by doing: through workshops and trainings on different skills be it craft, media etc that would equip the women and youth to evolve more sustainable livelihoods