Mahila Mandals (Women Self-help Groups)

Mahila Mandal is a community based rural women organization with around 20 members. It has an elected executive body of Pradhan (Chief), Up Pradhan (Assistant Chief), Secretary and Treasurer. Mahila Mandal acts as a village level forum for women to discuss their personal, social, political, spiritual and economic concerns. Women contribute their energy and passion towards each others welfare. This mutual reinforcing model of the Mahila Mandal makes it unique. Many women have been empowered by this process, finding new strength not only to help themselves, but those around them.

Objectives of Mahila Mandal:

  • To enable women to unleash their innate potential, individually and ability to work collectively.
  • To provide a forum for rural women to discuss their personal, family, social, economic as well as spiritual concerns.
  • To comprehensively address issues like social justice, poverty, health, education, environment, and local self governance through the empowerment of rural women.
  • To make self dependent and wise decision makers by increasing responsibility and prioritizing issues using collective thinking.
  • To make women move from insecurity and instability to security and stability.
  • To sensitize women to their local issues.
  • Integration of every village women with Mahila Mandal for her self development and to make her aware of her rights so that she will make positive contributions towards the development of her village.
  • Comprehensive development of the village through village women
  • To examine avenues for women to stand on their own feet such as through Self Help Groups for micro-credit and community based livelihood.

Field activities of Mahila Mandal comprise:

  • Regular monthly meetings.
  • Mobilization, networking with community groups especially Yuva Mandals and Panchayat, to strengthen participation and inter-linkages. Participation in Yuva Mandals and Panchayat meetings.
  • Addressing issues affecting women such as gender, social injustice, alcohol abuse awareness, female foeticide, women’s role in Panchayat, cleanliness drives, clean water sources, trees plantation, ensuring literacy and education.
  • Supporting other women and children in distress.
  • Spreading awareness through nukkad nataks (street plays), topical songs, rallies, puppet shows, films, plays and quiz programs.
  • Providing space and conducting income generation activities, Balwadi and adult literacy classes.
  • Accessing help from different departments of the government, as required.
  • Conducting special meets and events for exchange programs in the villages, for both men and women.
  • Participation in exchange programs in villages to learn about successes in agriculture and agriculture allied fields such as dairy, bee keeping, fishery, sericulture, etc.

The true asset of these Mahila Mandals has been their ability to think together and be together. The Mahila Mandals always meet at least once a month in order to analyze their problems and find applicable solutions within their means.
Some of the Mahila Mandals in Dharamsala are the Mahila Mandal Sidhbadi in Sidhbari village (24 women), Radha Krishan Mahila Mandal in Khanyara village (46 women) and Adarsh Mahila Mandal in Khanyara village (20 women).