The ‘Society for Rights of All Women with Disabilities (SFRAWD)’ was instituted as a public charitable society in the year 2014 and registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975bearing registration number 389/2014, is an organisation with 10,000 registered members who are women, girls with various kinds of disabilites and mothers of children with disabilities all over Districts of Tamil Nadu, which is been taken care by Ms. Lalithambigai (President), Ms. Mageswari (Secretary), Ms. ArunaDevi (Treasurer), Ms. Sangeetha (Public Relation Officer), Vice Presidents Ms. Rehma Ravi and Ms. Ramu@Sabeena and Join Secretaries Ms. Manoranjitham and Ms. Annakammu are the office bearers who have various disabilities serving women with all kinds of disabilities all over Tamil Nadu. Since its inception, the organization has continuously strived to empower women with disabilities from the most marginalized communities in Tamil Nadu. Of the various initiatives taken up to mitigate the issues and concerns of disabled women the major focus has been to ensure that women with disabilities are able to enjoy their rights and are treated equally with dignity and respect on par with others. Following registration as a society, SRAWD has been granted exemption for donations under 12AA and 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Ms. Padma Venkatraman (President, Women’s Indian Association) daughter of former President of India R. Venkatraman is the Patron of this organisation and gives her constant support and guidance to this organisation. She is also known for her work on women’s welfare issues and rehabilitation of leprosy-affected persons. The advisory members are Ms. Jayalakshmi (Director, Annai Illam), Ms. Sureka Kothari (Hypontherapist, BodyMindSoul Centre), Dr.Rosy Fernando (Founder, START UP Solution), Ms. Rosy Sujatha (Project Manager, CESVI), Ms. Esther Mariaselvam (Regional Manager, Action Aid), Ms. Sundari Suresh (Prof., Saveetha Engeering College), Ms. Krishna Radha Krishna (President, WEWA), Dr. Pravda Prabhakaran (Asst.Prof., Sathyabama Dental Clinic), Ms. Nandhini (Trustee, Need Trust), Ms. Vijaya Baskaran (Sign Language Interpreter), they provide us with constant advisory support and other legal guidance to this organization.
Upholding the Rights of Differently abled Women and Girls
Against this backdrop, the vision of the organization is to ensure that women and girls with disabilities have access to equal rights and opportunities, the right to lead a dignified life, the right to voice out their demands and concerns and the right to be part of decision making processes and policy formulations at all levels of governance and society. In line with this overarching vision, the organization functions with the mission of empowering and mainstreaming disabled women and girls by building their capacities so that they can lead an independent and dignified life. So far, over 50,000 women with disabilities suffering from various forms and degrees of disability either from their birth or due to other reasons have been enrolled as members in the organization.
Among the differently abled women, the most vulnerable group are the disabled girls hailing from rural villages. Most of these girls are illiterate as their families consider them as a burden and do not even provide basic education to them. Due to this several girls end up becoming unskilled and unemployed as adults. While several disabled girls find it difficult to get married, even if they are married off they are mostly deserted by their spouses and live a life of solitude with their children. Several men who have married disabled women prefer to marry again placing their disabled spouse at a greater risk and vulnerability.
In order to empower such differently abled women and girls, the following major works were carried out by the organization over the last few years,
- Formation of Self Dignity Groups–Block, Taluk and District level groups,
- Organizing awareness programs– Differently abled welfare schemes & policies of government,
- Organizing trainings to parents of children with disabilities–Child care & protection,
- Medical healthcare support–Connecting with leading hospitals,
- Leadership development training–Empowering disabled women and girls,
- Providing assistive devices and aids–Improving mobility and quality of life,
- Conducting vocational training programmes–Improving economic status,
- Livelihood support – Motorized tailoring machines, Petty shops & interest free loans,
- Career guidance programs for girls–Awareness on educational opportunities,
- Facilitating employment opportunities–Jobs based on qualification and abilities,
- Training on competitive exams–Public services, Banks, PSUs and Private sector, and
- Providing free legal aid services–Ensuring access to justice.
Proposed Initiatives, Budget and Geographical Coverage
In continuance of the above works among differently abled women and girls the organization proposes to provide skill building trainings, organize capacity building workshops, vocational training programs, provide livelihood support, create employment opportunities, initiate dialogue and liasioning to avail social welfare benefits from government, provide assistive devices and ensure quality healthcare facilities to all women with disabilities. The above initiatives have been planned in all 33 districts of Tamil Nadu at an estimated budget cost of 20, 00,000 (Twenty Lakhs – INR).