Founder Deepa Pawar was invited as a trainer for a two-day residential training on 23rd & 24th July 2019 on ‘Strengthening Community Based Institution by Empowering Women with Disabilities with Special Focus on SDG, UNCRPD & RPWDA’. This was primarily on Gender and Rights including including Mental Health rights with 40 disability rights activists (themselves persons with disability) in Jaipur, Rajasthan organized by Sightsavers – an international organization that is implementing The Social Inclusion Programme in five districts of Rajasthan. The activists trained by Deepa are working in a program to empower Disabled People’s Organizations (DPO), building their capacities and linking them with various social and economic empowerment schemes of the government.

Subjects covered included:

  • Sex and Gender identities
  • Gender across all social institutions and identities and understanding of Patriarchy
  • Gender violence in context of disabled persons’ rights including domestic violence and sexual harassment at workplace
  • Related laws such as DV Act 2005, POSH Act 2013, POCSO Act 2012 and need for sensitive government officials
  • Mental Health in context of disability and gender
  • Leadership in context of disability rights activists

“Participants already had an understanding of the difference between gender and sex but after the workshop they had new insights on social gender and what power each gender holds depending upon the context, how different institutions such as education, religion, law and order, etc. influence gender and gives rise to gender discrimination and violence.”

– Project Officer Tushita Mukherjee, Sightsavers

The group also understood that visibility of the weaker gender, such as that of a woman or a transgender is less in media and textbooks and even if there is any mention, it is mostly stereotypical. This understanding on social gender and discussions on various institutions influencing gender helped the DPO members understand their community to work in a better way and change their approaches while dealing with women, especially women with disability.

The participants shared that they were not aware of the importance of having sound knowledge of the law while writing letters. Now they realised that while doing advocacy it is very important to understand every article mentioned in the Rights of Persons with Disability (RPWD) Act 2016. Mentioning different articles from the Act that has to do with disability gives weightage to the letter that they write to the government. Being very thorough with the Acts that are meant for them as PWDs and how RPWD Act applies across departments and laws is one of the major steps in their journey of advocacy.

At the end, the formation of a State level Gender Committee of the DPOs across Rajasthan was introduced. Deepa was consulted as an expert by the Sightsavers team on the formation, guidelines, objectives, actions, etc. of such a committee.