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Gender Perspective Conference Held at Guild of Service, Rahat Ghar:
Dialogue at different levels to explore the problems of employment, livelihood and empowerment.
Submitted by Dr. V. Mohini Giri

Since, 2001 the Guild of Service started and initiated Rahat Ghar under the Swadhar Scheme of the Government of India, for empowerment of militancy-affected women, women in distress and women needing care. Our activities have carved a unique niche for ourselves as an initiative, which is transforming women and children from insecure to a totally secure transformation.

Our activities include a range of initiatives that include – active listening, counseling, articulation of concerns of women about livelihood and employment. Our initiative facilitates women to come together and become a vibrant voice for peace and justice. In an atmosphere marked by mistrust and suspicion the Guild promotes reconciliation through constant dialogue.

Today’s ‘get together’ is also a continuation of that process where women come together to share their common concerns. Today’s meeting will bring together 50 marginalized women from the Srinagar Valley to brainstorm on concrete steps that can be taken for their resettlement and empowerment.

Our aim is to give a voice to women who have so far been victims to transform themselves into peace builders and identify the skills they have to become economically independent.

The Guild also has a vision for the children who are victims of conflict and insecurity. A concentrated effort is made to help the children to get over trauma through theatre workshops, music and story telling. Trauma counselling sessions are held by Sri Ravi Shankar Foundation so that these children could leave behind their troubled past and develop a positive attitude for a secure future.

Our aim is to empower this new generation in expertise of either skills or through good schooling and training programmes. So far 70 children from our home are receiving boarding and lodging, schooling at the Badami Bagh Cantt. School. The children are aged between 3 and 16.

The children are taught simple skills at the home and a lot of emphasis is given to build synergy at various levels of education, games, and cultural activities. The children and the widows are equipped to cope with various situations of co-existence. To the women in our home, apart from skill development, gender sensitive training is imparted. Our programmes are aimed at wide range of methodologies for capacity building.

Events of Rahat Ghar

  • Mainstreaming children through excursions to see India, meet the President; in 2004 and visit the metro station, sight seeing through a Bharat Darshan Yatra in 2006.

  • Earthquake relief was provided during the earthquake in 2005 and Rahat Ghar helped in distribution of relief materials.

  • The Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana-ke-Sipahi Award was given to Ms. Zamrooda of Rahat Ghar, in May this year at a function on former Prime Minister late Shri Rajiv Gandhi’s 15th death anniversary where the youth of various social organizations were recognized.

  • Journalists visit from time to time to record their stories to spread awareness about their situation.

  • Student scholarships have been introduced in association with Travel Mate, with short term and long-term courses for 10 exceptional students.

  • Rahat Ghar celebrates annual day every year with song and dance by the children who talented and are encouraged to pursue these activities as well.

    We have a very exclusive Advisory Committee who are:

    • Dr. Girija Dhar – Chair
    • Ms. Nighat Altaf
    • Ms. Suraiya Ali Mattoo
    • Ms. Mumtaz Soz
    • Ms. Nighat Shafi Pandit
    • Prof. Nuzrat Andrabi
    • Prof. Hawa Bashir
    • Ms. Rukhsana Ahmad
    • Ms. Farida Mohd. Zaffar
    • Ms. Nischint Singh
    • Ms. Kishwr

    Date: 24th August, 2006 at 11:00 a.m .Venue: Hum-Hamma, RTC, Group Center (CRPF), Srinagar.


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