Autonomy for Adivasi women

Lohardaga is a small district in Jharkhand State, mostly inhabited by Adivasi, tribal people living mainly from agriculture and forest products, but also from seasonal migration in times when food reserves are scarce and moving in search of any kind of day job remains the only solution for survival.

Many girls leave school to go and work as maids in other people’s homes or as labourers in brick kilns or buildings, where they receive a salary of about 3 Euros a day. These young women, discriminated against and marginalised, are often victims of violence and socio-economic deprivation. They are vulnerable and at risk of falling into human trafficking or exploitation.

Fostering Self Help Groups among Adivasi women is the tool to guarantee them not only social but also economic support. MAGIS, thanks to the contribution of Caritas Italiana, has launched a micro-project of empowerment and self-development aimed at 50 young Adivasi women to start pig farming activities.

Supporting small income-generating activities for Adivasi women ensures them a certain financial autonomy and contributes to increase the family income. It also reduces the risks of falling into the networks of exploitation, by strengthening and stimulating greater collaboration and solidarity between women who acquire self-confidence.

The AROUSE Association, a local partner managed by the Jesuits, has been working with the Adivasis since 2006 by supporting women’s Self Help Groups – groups committed to enhancing the role of women in tribal society – and by promoting activities and opportunities for collective exchange, confrontation and mutual support. In this way, women have the opportunity to analyse together and in a critical way the various socio-economic issues to be addressed. The particular attitude to pig breeding in the Adivasi populations, in line with the tribal tradition, gave rise to the idea of a “Pig Farming” intervention addressed to the women of the Self Help Groups. In the first phase of the project, a complete training on pig breeding was provided to 40 young tribal women. Each woman then received two suckling pigs as initial capital to start breeding other piglets and to be able to sell them. The project was then extended to 10 more women.

From the first litter of piglets delivered to the 50 women, two piglets will be returned to the Arouse association (it is the way for each woman to repay the initial investment) which in turn will give them to another 50 women belonging to the Self Help Groups. This will create a chain of solidarity and sustainable collaboration between the Arouse Association, the Self Help Groups and the many women beneficiaries of the project. This income-generating activity is highly appreciated by the tribal populations, and especially by the women, since it is an activity that the woman can carry out near the village without straying too far from her family.