This project will bring together the commitment and financial strength of one of the world's leading entrepreneur networks with the key local change agents for eradicating hunger and poverty in India, namely the one million women elected to local government in rural areas. The Hunger Project aims to implement a systematic five-year strategy comprised of the actions below:
- Build the capacity of 50,000 elected women leaders who are directly responsible for improving access to health, education, nutrition, and better incomes for 15 million rural Indians.
- Mobilize local action campaigns to improve health, education, nutrition, and family income in partnership with their elected village councils.
- Build alliances for advocacy and action to reform policies such that village councils gain access to greater resources and decision-making authority.
- Incentivize and mobilize the power of the media to create a climate of awareness and transparency in which these actions can succeed.
- Track, document, and widely publicize the progress being achieved in a large sample of these villages.
The staff of The Hunger Project-India will implement a four-prong strategy in 14 states through the partnership of 90 local partner NGOs. The four prongs are (1) capacity building workshops for women leadership, (2) mobilization of the local population to make local government effective, (3) building federations of elected women leaders for advocacy and action, and (4) mobilizing the power of the media to create public support for strengthening local democracy.
The Hunger Project has developed web-based systems to track 22 of the 48 Millennium Development Goal indicators and targets established by the UN, specifically those appropriate to village-level measurement.
Today, rates of malnutrition in South Asia remain higher than most of Africa, despite growing economies and sufficient agricultural productivity. Studies have concluded that the root cause of these exceptionally high rates of malnutrition in South Asia can be seen in a 'cycle of malnutrition.' Further, the primary cause of this crippling 'cycle' has been identified; it is the severe discrimination against women and girls. Finally, with the passage of the 73rd amendment to India's constitution, rural women gained the opportunity to serve as elected leaders in local government. In India, one million women have been elected to village councils--a number greater than all other women elected to public office throughout the world. And as these newly-elected women leaders learn to express their leadership, they are beginning to transform the local development agenda-shifting priorities to health, education, and nutrition, and tackling issues such as corruption and domestic violence.
Women leaders continue to face enormous obstacles, including bureaucratic obstructions and gender- and caste-based violence. Eradicating abject poverty in India will require far greater governmental and private commitment to empowering elected women leaders and strengthening local democracy. By increasing the scale of activities that strengthen women's leadership and local democracy, and by combining it with independent evaluation and a broad coalition of civil society partners, this partnership will play a key role in eradicating abject poverty in rural India.
Since 2000, The Hunger Project has pioneered strategies to build the leadership capacity of elected women leaders, and to strengthen local democracy as the most effective society-wide institution through which impoverished people can meet their basic needs. The Hunger Project has become the leading organization in India on issues of women and local democracy, earning support at the highest levels of government and in the media.
SEEKING: Financial resources, implementing partners, media/marketing opportunities
The Hunger Project is committed to taking its approach to scale, leveraging partnerships with all actors and sectors. Those interested in replicating THP methodology in India or other nations are invited to contact THP.
THP continues to seek greater funding for deepening its program, and building the capabilities of the 50 CBOs with whom we implement this program. It is our goal to double total funding in India - from $2.5 million to $5 million per year - by 2015.
We will need more funding for this than we originally thought, as we've found it necessary to expand the forms of financial support offered (especially the formation and support of federations). For the next three years we are seeking at least another $3,000,000.
If provided with additional funding, the campaign has the capacity to greatly expand the number of women participating.
OFFERING: Implementing partners, best practices information
The Women and Local Democracy in India Campaign has a capacity based on a network of 50 Indian organizations implementing this strategy. THP-India has developed 25 distinct training modules for empowering grassroots elected women leaders, and is eager to expand the reach of these programs through partnerships and advocacy.