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Gender is a mainstay of WOTR’s work – a cross-cutting priority. Gender concerns are embedded in every activity that WOTR undertakes. Since gender equality can only be achieved when men and women are equally empowered, WOTR gives emphasis to a level-playing field, which it does in a variety of ways, including organising women into self-help groups and addressing their concerns through health, personal care and personality development .

At WOTR, our philosophy of gender and women empowerment is rooted in the concept of the ‘wheels of the bullock cart’. Just as the wheels of a bullock cart have to be of the same size for it to move forwardly smoothly, men and women have to be equal partners for society to move forward in a sustainable way.

We achieve this by focusing on empowering both women and men by making them equal partners and beneficiaries of this empowerment.

Alignment with International Frameworks

Sustainable Development Goals

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The story of Seema Merskole, the sarpanch of Birolipar village, Madhya Pradesh

In Birolipar, a village in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, teacher absteentism was a major problem. Seema Merskole, the secretary of ‘Mahalaxmi SHG’ and chairperson of the School Committee in Birolipar tells us how the gram panchayat of Birolipar, with Merskole taking the initiative, changed the situation for the better.

From December 2016, a male school teacher was habitually absent for scheduled classes. The teacher had been deputed in the school four years ago. He used to come to the school irregularly and mark himself present even for the days he was not there in the school. Sometimes, he even used to take away the attendance register with him and not even turn up the next day. After discussion among other women colleagues, I formed a surveillance team of 10-11 women. I told the other teachers that now we were looking forward to solve this issue.  For three days, different teams used to go to school  whether to check the concerned teacher was present at the school. The teacher didn’t turn up on all three days. On the third day, we called the Education Department office in Bhopal and requested them to come here to review the situation. Then we called the Chief Minister’s Helpline and informed them as well about the situation. A team from Education Department arrived quickly to look into the matter. We presented the facts about his abstenteeism and how pupils were suffering. This incident changed the attitude of the teacher. He now comes regularly and conducts classes on time. The attitude of women of the village has also changed. We refuse to remain silent when something wrong is happening. Even in the Village Development Committee (VDC) meeting, or other meetings when faced with resistance from men, we don’t give in, and try to give our honest opinion. We have now formed an SHG and are going to sell oranges both in our village and in the neighbouring villages.”

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Scale of operations

1,261 SHGs with 15,105 members active in the year 2017-18

249 training sessions for SHG members with 4,503 women

1,027 drudgery-reducing items were distributed

6 gender training workshops were held, with 400 participants

Meditative Relaxation exercises for 400 people

54 women exposure visits with 1,486 participants

60 Samyukta Mahila Samiti trainings with 782 women

44 women gatherings (melawas) with 5,293 women in attendance


Gender - Publication

Gender Dimension of Climate Change Adaptation

Women are the most vulnerable to climate impacts. It is therefore necessary to understand how best we can make Climate Change Adaptation sensitive to their needs. In this study in the semi-arid regions of Maharashtra, we explore women’s perceptions about the climate crisis and how to tap their knowledge and integrate it into CCA.



Do Changes in Land Use Patterns affect gender roles and relations?

Over the last couple of decades, there has been a rapid and large scale shift in rural land use patterns in many parts of the world. India is no exception to such changes. How do these changes affect women? Do they result in greater freedom for women and less drudgery? To know, read our blog.



You Gave ME a Chance

We are delighted to share with you a booklet titled “You gave me a chance”, which covers the work done by WOTR under the ‘Chance for girls project’ in 344 villages of Maharashtra. The project focused mainly on women empowerment and changing mindsets of rural communities towards the girl child among rural communities.




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