Stree Mukti Sanghatana

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Stree Mukti Sanghatana

Stree Mukti Sanghatana started out in 1975 as a theatre troupe staging travelling street plays about women’s rights and gender equality. In the years since, it has established itself as one of Maharashtra’s leading social justice organisations that works to empower women, adolescents, children and the working classes, particularly waste pickers.

One of SMS’s early programmes was the establishment of family counselling centres. There are now six such centres in four districts of Maharashtra, where trained counsellors provide social, emotional and legal support to women facing domestic violence. The organisation also runs several day-care centres for young children, so that mothers from the working classes get much-needed support while they go to work.

Stree Mukti Sanghatana also runs the Jidnyasa programme for adolescents. It involves a short course in schools where teenaged students are taught about their changing bodies, stress management, the risks of addiction and vocational guidance. The Parisar Vikas programme, meanwhile, provides financial assistance, skills training, healthcare and other support to women waste pickers in Mumbai. Along with all these programmes, SMS continues to raise social awareness by staging street plays across the country.

The project supported by MFE:

Family Counselling Centres

This one-year project aims to strengthen Stree Mukti Sanghatana’s family counselling centres in Maharashtra. One of its primary objectives is to provide counselling services to more than 2,500 women and men to help them lead a dignified life without violence, with confidence and self-determination. The family centres have been counselling women for years, but SMS now hopes to significantly increase the number of men accessing their counselling services, and to raise awareness among them. The organisation aims to get at least an 80% satisfaction rating from the families and individuals accessing these counselling services.

Another objective is to recruit and train more than 100 community volunteers to form strong support systems within local communities. Through at least 50 workshops, these grassroots volunteers will be trained to guide, support and protect survivors of domestic violence, and ensure that they get swift access to counselling and legal help. SMS aims to create a feedback and follow-up system through which volunteers can report reduction in the rate of domestic violence in their neighbourhoods.

SMS will also conduct at least 40 workshops with adults and 10 workshops with youth in Mumbai and Pune, to raise awareness and nurture critical thinking about issues of gender justice, constitutional rights, mental health, violence and addiction. Finally, under this project SMS aims to build 20 collaborative networks at the local, state and national level to help strengthen the process of gender justice and prevention of violence. This will involve conducting at least 20 workshops with other stakeholders from the state and the legal system.