Our work is focused on Girls’ Empowerment by helping them acquire soft and hard skills and training in leadership and community work. This empowerment process helps them to become active and productive citizens of society. We focus on equipping girls with skills such as photography, art and craft, poster and pamphlet making, street theatre for social awareness, newsletter creation and public speaking which aids them in their community work. We impart trainings and provide opportunities to help our programme participants to express themselves through different mediums effectively.
Exposure visits are organised to promote the overall growth of our programme participants as these visits help them understand different systems and provide exposure to the world outside their communities. Additionally, Vacha carries out trainings and workshops with adolescents to impart knowledge on health creating a postive attitude towards their body. Vacha helps them to overcome their health issues by creating awareness of opportunites and systems which they can access.
With the addition of new centres in the year 2019 - 2020, we have been able to reach out to 1408 girls and 313 boys through direct interventions like regular after-school sessions, workshops, exposure visits and events.
Established two new Girls’ resource centres in 2 Slum Rehabilitation Authority sites in the western suburbs.
Younger girls were educated on pubertal changes, the social relevance of menstruation and self-expression techniques and older girls were trained in goal setting, critical thinking and the Right to Information Act.
A general health screening, checking of blood group, levels of haemoglobin and gynaecological consultation was undertaken for participants.
Vacha disseminated nutritional food items like fruits, chana, jaggery, amaranth, ragi laddoos among others to the programme participants to build their immune system.
Exposure visits to Nehru Science Centre, post office, public parks & gardens, bank, zoo, agricultural produce market committee, police station, health post and solid waste management were organised for programme participants.
Participants in the age group of 13 — 17 years who have been regular and most active have been elected by others to become members of the Youth Council across 13 centres.
Mentorship of younger programme participants by older girls is critical to generate cross-learning and experience sharing to work in the community. These older girls have a deep understanding of Vacha's work and therefore are ideal mentors for the younger programme participants. Mentorship also encourages community youth to own projects and utilise skills imparted during our capacity-building sessions. Younger programme participants feel empowered to undertake community action with the support of their mentors.
The scholarship programmeme is a multi-faceted approach in achieving our goal of providing educational support to Vacha girls. This scholarship is awarded based on their active participation in the community as youth leaders and negotiating their rights to pursue higher studies along with their academic performance. There is mentoring and monitoring of scholarship girls to ensure they progress along the same lines. Girls use this fund for their educational, nutrition, medical and stationery expenses.
In 2019 - 2020, we had 147 mentors working with our younger programme participants in driving community events.
A Kabbadi Tournament event was organised in the community by Vacha Youth group to assert the need to recognise the right to open spaces for adolescent girls in the community on the occasion of Human Rights Day.
Youth groups from Santacruz organised a signature campaign to request the Metro Authority to provide concessions to college students as the daily travel by Metro is expensive.
Youth Group in Andheri approached the local police to increase patrolling in their community due to increasing cases of sexual harassment.
An annual 2-day residential camp was conducted for the youth to understand consent, sexuality and honour with the lens of individual rights to our bodies. The camp also facilitated a platform for the youth to present their community work and its achievement.
Vacha engages in research and documentation on girls’ issues. The aim is to increase visibility and highlight the contribution of women and more specifically, of girls. Vacha conducts trainings and workshops on the themes of gender and patriarchy, girls’ health and menstruation. The objective is to develop an understanding of gender construction among young people and devise strategies to combat it. Trainings are organised with young people working with NGOs, students mostly from colleges and those pursuing teacher training courses. Another theme of training is on growing up issues concerning girls in their second decade of life. These trainings are imparted using creative and engaging methodology including power walks, film screenings, games and fun group activities.
In the year 2019 - 2020, 138 women and 95 men across organisations underwent training and through the gender-fair, participants were able to reach out to 671 women and 455 men.
Conducted a research study on ‘Situation of Girls living in Slum Rehabilitation Scheme and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Scheme Buildings’ across five locations in the year 2020.
Participants expressed their awareness of gender issues and their relevance in their personal lives.
Some of the male participants shared that they never understood the inequalities of women in their house and always viewed things from a male perspective.
Participants shared that they were excited to be a part of the decision-making and planning phase along with the implementation phase.
To foster engagements and build social capital, girls are often encouraged to participate in forums and discussions. These ensure that they gain a platform to voice out their opinions. Youth are encouraged to attend conferences, trainings, seminars and workshops organised by like-minded organisations to build networking and communication skills.
Vacha is a coordinating agency of the Learning Community Project by Emerging Markets Foundation, which is a network of adolescent girls across seven Mumbai-based organisations. Its objective is to make essential interventions with girls to become pro-active and participate in public life and to develop leadership skills. For the fifth year in a row, these adolescent girls have led interventions, rallies, worked with the government structures and community-driven actions to bring a new paradigm of equality, dignity and freedom for girls in 10 wards of Mumbai.
In the year 2019 - 2020, girls worked on issues related to safety, access to clean toilets and zero dropouts in their communities. Girls from one community applied for the Right to Information Act to know about the number of street lights, drafted letters, visited the company’s office and explained their issues. Their intervention led to the street lights being made functional. In another instance, a pressure group of women was formed by the youth group in one of our Kalyan communities to work on the issue of sanitation to raise concerns with the local authorities on the insufficient public toilet structures in proportion to the population. This has led to a reduction and re-enrollments of dropouts in the community which was witnessed in a survey study conducted by youth in 2019.
Girls understood field challenges and brainstormed on the solutions which prepare them for the outside world where they learn to face challenges bravely.
On the occasion of Human Rights' Day in 2019, girl leaders from Jogeshwari organised a community meeting with the ration officials on “Right to food”. This meeting facilitated community people to voice their concerns freely and gain immediate solutions.
On the Global Campaign of ‘16 Days of Activism’ held from 25th November 2019 to 10th December 2019, girls worked on various aspects to eliminate violence against women through rallies, photo exhibitions, fairs, street plays, film screenings, signature campaigns, online poetry, storytelling and other awareness activities on sexual harassment, unsafe public spaces and gender-based violence.
Vacha has a large collection of books on/by women which are now housed in our centre at Dombivali. In 2019, we aimed at formalising the existing mobile library programmeme and set up a permanent library in a poor community for underprivileged children and youth. There was no library facility in that area. Vacha Youth mobilised the library in the nearby communities and schools which led to an influx of students from the nearby schools who never had an opportunity to read a book. The objective of the programme was to inculcate reading habits and enhance knowledge among our programme participants.
Books of different genres- storybooks, poetry, science and technology, quiz books, general knowledge, activity books, games, dictionaries, etc. along with children’s magazines and newspapers are a part of the library. Our newspaper reading sessions generated considerable interest in adolescents as this was the first time they had read newspapers and played interactive educational games. Many children shared that they loved reading poems, especially, in Hindi. Vacha youth groups played a critical role in driving this programme in the centre and nearby schools.
In the year 2019, over 7,000 booklets published by Vacha on gender, health and menstruation were distributed amongst adolescents through diverse events.
This year, we have launched a new publication and an innovative board game.
Bal Kishori: Girls in Early Adolescence
A handbook in Hindi on Puberty and Menstruation focusing on breaking the taboo and myths related to girls’ mobility with some worldwide data on health and education of adolescent girls.
An innovative board game that aims at gathering qualitative information about adolescents, their lifestyles, the role of healthcare and their opinions about issues related to health. This game was designed by Sreya Majumdar from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, who was interning for her project with Vacha for over 6 months. She was inspired by our programme participants and created this board game to facilitate qualitative conversations among girls.