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Gender and Development/ Adolescent Empowerment - Rationale

The Situation of Women especially adolescent girls in the Northern Region of

A summary of the study conducted in 136 villages in the three northern states of
Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan (UKSVK/northern region) through Baseline
Survey and Participatory Rural Appraisal showed the dismal picture of women with less
than 25% of literacy. The actual baseline survey reveals that literacy rate in some of the
rural areas of the North India is even less than 10%.

A strong patriarchal society with deep-rooted socio-cultural values continues to effect

gender equity and women's empowerment. In spite of the constitutional provisions and
73rd amendment, women continue to be treated as lesser human beings irrespective of
caste, creed or religion.

There is a persistent gender discrimination against women in education, mainly because

of certain stereotypes and beliefs deeply embedded in the society such as treating a girl-
child as somebody else's property and that she should remain indoors to carry out the
household works etc.

The boy child is preferred because of the patriarchal values attached to the male
offspring in performing the last rites and as an insurance against old age. Girls are not
preferred because of the financial burden they would bring due to the prevailing dowry
system. Thus women are treated as commodities.

Based on the findings of the study carried out, the following emerged as key areas where
women need to be empowered: -

• Lack of access and control over the public resources and institutions
• Lack of access and control over community affairs
• Lack of control over political process and decision making in house holds
• Lack of access and control over income

• Lack of control over their bodies

The Role of the Organization and Scope for Work

It was felt by UKSVK that it is high time to intervene to minimize these problems.
Therefore, the forum decided to launch a common regional program for the
empowerment of women.

This project provides a unique opportunity to highlight the state of Gender and
development at the policy level in the Northern states of India. It also provides an
opportunity of displaying the collective strength of the socio - economically and politically
deprived women of 136 villages situated in the 12 dioceses of Northern India. We believe
that the process of collectivization will contribute to the improvement of women's status
both at village level and outside among the policymakers.

UKSVK plays a facilitative role in implementing this Gender and Development program. It
takes care of common requirements for the successful implementation of the program.
Such requirements include: Capacity Building, Monitoring & Evaluation, and Policy
Advocacy, Networking and Financial Management.

Our belief:
The women empowerment strategy adopted by UKSVK in the process of Gender and
Development intervention has emerged as a unique response to the challenges of
equality, development and peace. We believe that women empowerment will take place
by providing access and control to the women over certain tangible and intangible
resources. Here by access may be defined as "opportunities available to use the
resources" and "control over resources" as "the bargaining power to define or
determine the use of the resources" The pertinent tangible and intangible resources,
which we believe, will provide women to expand their options and empower them.