Politics of Change : sustainable trajectories

Rural India today : What makes change happen in women’s lives?
How are women from different social categories trying to reposition themselves in public and domestic spheres to change attitudes, achieve recognition and exercise their rights at home and at work? Which forms of recognition can best support women’s work as a tool for empowerment?
How do women workers organize to claim rights and recognition?

We want to research the elements that provoke these changes. Trace the opportunities created by an original vision and leading to innovative practices. Study the actions of mobilisation and organisation that are at the origin of changed conditions.

The outcome of the project is an artistic documentary with which we want to open a dialogue on women empowerment. How it is understood by the women themselves and how they put it into practice. How narratives on empowerment translate into diverse local contexts and languages. ‘New narratives’ on women empowerment that take context, culture and history into account.
We want to generate a contextualised understanding of the relationships between empowerment and social change in the perspective of a more balanced society.

the research
The research will look into different areas : study the empowerment in women’s everyday lives, how positive change happens. Trace the processes that enhance women empowerment, in order to understand the conditions, strategies and tactics for change.

– practices for justice and equality: Mahila Samiti, the ‘united women’s voice’ support women rights on domestic and public level. This empowerment provokes in turn a greater justice and equality.
– creation of jobs (solar cooker trainings, solar lighting trainings ): research the relationships between work and empowerment. Explore the implications on women’s rights and women’s domestic and social living conditions.
– empowerment through ecology: environmental activism to reposition rural knowledge and culture. Research the awareness-building on organic agriculture. Explore the assets of nature and distributed green power.

research methodology
Information gathering through questionnaires, interviews and stories that focus on the individual and/or collective approach, the action and the transformation (selfbelief – respect – dignity).

Target group: women working in small distributed communities
Action: self-organisation in bottom up structures
Practices: appropriate technology, ecology, organic agriculture, social action
Objective: balanced and sustainable transformation of living conditions.

research phase #01 :: the women of barefoot college
The Barefoot College (1972) is convicted that solutions to rural problems lie within the community. It addresses problems of drinking water, girl education, rural unemployment, income generation, electricity and power, as well as social awareness and the conservation of ecological systems in rural communities. It benefits the poorest of the poor who have no alternatives. The College encourages practical knowledge and skills rather than paper qualifications through a learning by doing process of education. (http://barefootcollege.org)

Interviews with barefoot college women:
Rami Devi. Women’s group Coordinator
Shamma Jogi. Solar Cooker Engineer.
Sita Bai. Solar Cooker Engineer.
Najma Nigam. Solar Lighting Engineer.
Leela Devi. Solar Lighting Engineer.
Magan Kawar. Solar Lighting Engineer.
Sangu. Handicrafts Designer.
Mangi Bai. Education and Nightschools.
Nandu. Guesthouse Keeper.

Interviews with barefoot college men:
S.Srinavasan (aka Vasu). Facilitator.
Bhagwat Nandan (aka Guruji). Head of solar department.
RamKaran. Head of Women Development.
RamNiwas. Head of Communication.

Tin Mahila (3 women) : the documentary
Tin Mahila travels through rural Rajasthan. Starting in small villages, the main body of the story situates at the Solar Cooker Cooperative of the Barefoot College.
The Barefoot project focuses on women empowerment through appropriate technological solutions taught and realized by women.
The solar cooker engineers provide their own wages through production and sales of huge solar cooker machines. The cooperative is run by women of different generations.
The film articulates the visionary ideas of men and women who inspire the protagonists in their action towards a radical shift in policy and practice.

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