Accessing Government Entitlements

Spreading Awareness About Government Schemes, Laws and Systems

In India, governments of the Centre and the States make many schemes and laws intended to benefit the marginalized and low-income sections of society. In India, these benefits all too often do not reach the intended people for whom these benefits are made! The reasons are basically two: (1) the people do not know about the schemes and laws, or they don’t know how to access them, and (2) unscrupulous government functionaries siphon off the resources before they can reach the intended beneficiaries. The Organization of Strong Women Alone (Ekal Nari Shakti Sansthan) spreads information and awareness about beneficial schemes and laws amongst the low-income single women associated with the Organization, and also spreads awareness about the structures of the state which are put in place to help the people.

Making Gvernment Schemes Accessible for Deprived Sections
Making Gvernment Schemes Accessible for Deprived Sections

The Organization spreads information about such schemes, laws, programmes through meetings, training programmes, and print materials. This work of the Organization enables better implementation of government schemes at the grassroots level so that deprived people can get benefit from them.

One of the main reasons that things have changed for Single Women associated with the Organization, is that they are not alone. If a case of domestic violence, exploitation or other atrocity is reported at a meeting, the other Single Women send a small group of women to see what the ground level situation is. If necessary, they counsel the family members, help the woman to file a police case, or make arrangements to help the affected Single Woman move out of that living arrangement.

In the beginning, the Organization was focused mostly on getting widow pensions for the widows associated with the Organization. Later, when the separated women of the Organization made everyone realize that their lives were in many ways similar to widows – being responsible for the survival of themselves and their dependent children - the Organization worked successfully towards the introduction of monthly pensions for not only widows but all deserving Single Women. In Rajasthan now not just “widow pensions” but “single women’s pensions” are the social security schemes available.

Making Gvernment Schemes Accessible for Deprived Sections

Child care and child support is another area of concern. The government had an “orphan children’s scheme” that gave the Caregiver of the child/children a small amount (Rs. 675 per month) per child up to 2 children, so long as the child was in school. The government then recognized that if the father of the children was not there to take care of his family, and the mother was alive and managing the family affairs, then the single mothers were given the stipends every month. Over the years, the amounts per month have been increased (now Rs. 1,500 per child) for a maximum of 3 children. The Organization has helped to alert the government about how to make the schemes better!

As the Single Women have expanded their knowledge of the system, and their own self-confidence, they have also been instrumental in helping deprived citizens get access to electricity and water connections, learn about Open School schemes to upgrade educational qualifications, and spread information about laws, schemes, procedures related to a large number of government schemes and services.

Awareness about Laws and Rules related to wage labour and livelihood activities are also spread to the single women. “Equal wages for work”, “minimum wages”, “separate MGNREGA cards for single women as head of their households”. Livelihood Mission skill training courses and how to enroll; even getting skill training courses included that do not require minimum academic prerequisites – awareness about these programmes are done by the Organization.

Awareness About Administrative and Governance Structures

  • The Administrative structures of society – the police stations and police structures; the development structures of the Gram Panchayat, the Block, the District, the State, the Central Government – information about all of these, how to use them, how to access their resources, form part of the training programmes and print materials of the Organization.
  • Elections - At the time of elections, the single women have spread information about voting, particularly for local Panchayati Raj Institutions. “Get your name on the voters’ list!”, “Be sure to go and vote”, “Listen to and remember what it is that the candidates are promising”. Many Single Women themselves are also standing for election, as Ward Councillors and even as Sarpanches (Chairperson of the Local Self-Government Councils). Single Women are helping to strengthening Democracy!

Training Programmes for Organization Leaders

All these issues affecting the lives of single women all over Rajasthan, form the subject matter for the Leadership Training programmes organized by the Organization of Strong Women Alone (Ekal Nari Shakti Sansthan). As of 2023, there are 70 State Level single women leaders, 102 Block Facilitators, and 5 designated leaders in each of 558 Gram Panchayats which means there are 2,790 grassroots Gram Panchayat leaders. The Organization has developed ways to train at least 100 leaders in a training programme.