Thursday, March 10, 2011

For those in Delhi: Visit the Jamia Bazaar on 13/14 March at India Islamic Cultural Centre

Cequin Creates A Unique Inclusive Platform For Women From Underprivileged Segments of Society

CEQUIN Presents JAMIA BAZAR, a vibrant exhibition that offers a glimpse into the world within the forgotten world that resides in Jamia Nagar.CEQUIN ( Center for Equity and Inclusion), an NGO lead by Sara Pilot and Lora Prabhu with a Gender Resource Centre in Jamia Nagar announces JAMIA BAZAAR, a two day exhibition that not just show-cases the world of Jamia Nagar to Delhi's denizens but also offers a platform for women residing in this area to show-case their skills.

New Delhi, Delhi, March 9, 2011 /India PRwire/ -- Keeping with its mission of promoting inclusion and women's enterprise,CEQUIN creates this platform to showcase Jamia's crafts, cuisine and culture. In partnership with a few other local NGOs and India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), CEQUIN will present the two days Jamia Bazaar on 13th and 14th March, at IICC, Lodi Road, from 12p.m. to 6 p.m. This is the first time that women and girls of poor households of Jamia will be getting an opportunity to go out and showcase their talents.

At the Jamia Bazaar visitors can enjoy hand crafted products created by women at the CEQUIN Gender Resource Center and members of other NGOs that CEQUIN ties up with. These include Muslim Women's Welfare Organisation, Muslim Women's Forum, Dr Zakir Hussain Society and Roshni Craft Centre.Embroidered kurtis and shalwars, beaded bags, artifacts etc will be available at colorful stalls. There will also be a gourmet trail featuring hot biryani, melt- in- the- mouthkebabs, refreshing chaat-paprietc. Beauticians trained at centre will offers guestson the spot services like mehendi, tattoo, nail art, massage etc. Cultural programs will be performed by women and youngsters from Jamia. This will include street plays, dance, music, recitation, etc.

Says Sara Pilot, "The women of this area are very spirited and talented, particularly good at fine embroidery. Many exporters and designers engage the skilled women for piece work. These women however do not have much bargaining power, and work comes sporadically. These have never organised themselves in groups, prior to CEQUIN's efforts. Also, they have never attempted to test their entrepreneurial skills." Jamia Bazaar is the first such effort in the inclusive process. "The Centre also helps in developing market linkages and placements. Our guiding approach is to be innovative, catalytic and sustainable. The long term vision for this project is to make a conscious effort to breakout of gender stereotype activities," adds Lora.

Jamia Nagar, historic in its origin and sterling in its cultural and intellectual roots, being supported by the iconic Jamia University, has been ghettoized by the rest of the city. Itsresidents rarely mingle with the rest of Delhi, nor is there much awareness within the rest of Delhi regarding Jamia and its culture. This was further accentuated following the infamous Batla House episode. The slums around the Jamia University area have remained underdeveloped, cut off from many civic amenities, primarily because many of these are unauthorised colonies.


CEQUIN, in partnership with JamiaMilia University, has been running a SamajikSuvidha Kendra (SSK) / Gender Resource Centre (GRC) in the Jamia Nagar area, under the aegis of Delhi Government's Mission Convergence since March 2009. The project aims to reduce poverty by promoting women's access to their economic, social and cultural rights and making them agents of change. It is at present catering to women and children from approximately 10,000 urban poor households. The identified areas of the Centre's operations are around Jamia Nagar, covering vulnerable clusters of Taimoor Nagar, Bharat Nagar, Noor Nagar, Zakir Nagar, Batla House, GaffarManzil, Johri Farm, Okhla Village, OkhlaVihar, Haji Colony, MujeebBagh, Ajmalbagh, Khizrabad, Gafoor Nagar, Saidabad, Gaddha Colony, Masigarh, Julaina Village, Ishwar Nagar, Maharani Bagh, SukhdevVihar, Friends Colony East and New Friends Colony. These congested clusters are of poor and predominantly Muslim households. The extensive slum areas comprise of temporary shacks housing hundreds of households. Many poor families also live in one room tenements in unauthorized constructions.

When CEQUIN started operations, there was minimal activity, in the context of empowerment of women, happening in this area. In order to develop an in-depth understanding of the problems in this area, CEQUIN completed an exhaustive household survey of over 10,000 households.This survey helped to identify the gaps in the developmental work that has taken place in this area over the years. While a few organizations were imparting skills in tailoring, toy making etc., these activities were not strategic, and did not appear to have any spin off effects in terms of empowerment.

Guided by CEQUINs belief that empowerment can be achieved by making efforts to transcend the welfare mode of charity and doles, to that of social enterprise and entitlements; the GRC has undertaken the following six activities:

Vocational Training

The GRC is imparting vocational training in three areas, handicrafts, cutting & tailoring and beauty culture. The approach is to go beyond skill building. The vocational training must translate into economic empowerment. The strategy being employed is to train and empower women with business management skills and make them employable. So far over 1000 women and girls have benefited from these trainings.

Non Formal Education

The Centre conducts non-formal education for children out of school, remedial classes for children in school as well as adult literacy classes. There have been nearly 500 beneficiaries for this project component so far.

Empowerment and Leadership Development

Empowerment and Leadership Development is an important agenda for CEQUIN. This component of the project is crosscutting for all the programmes of the centre. It includes gender training, human rights training, social entitlements training, financial training, right to information training, health and nutrition awareness training, legal awareness training and general knowledge training. The Centre is bringing in specialized resource people for these trainings.


Health and hygiene is a constant challenge for people living in the extensive slum areas comprising of temporary shacks housing hundreds of households. Civic amenities in these areas are nearly non-existent. With the average number of children per household at 5-6, reproductive health is a serious concern in this area. CEQUINs efforts to create significant impact involves three core areas of work which include organizing free health check up camps, offering free weekly OPDs in the center itself and also guiding mothers on nutrition.

Legal Counseling

Living in areas where crime is high these poor residents don't have access to any kind of legal aid. The women especially continue to suffer domestic violence in silence because of the highly conservative nature of the community. So, free legal aid is being provided by a lawyer who visits the centre twice a week. The primary focus is to first provide counsel and work out reconciliation. The next step is to provide legal counseling and if required, help from legal aid cell. Over 100 cases have been tackled at the Centre and it has been really encouraging that women have found the courage to trust the GRC with their intimate problems.

The GRC regularly organizes Legal awareness camps to create general awareness on women's rights. The topics covered in these sessions are the Domestic Violence Act 2005, Right to Information Act, Women Helpline, Human Rights, Juvenile Justice, Divorce under Muslim law and the Police Control Room.

Legal empowerment is an important component of this project. It is envisaged that in order to effectively empower the community, a group of advocates from within it will be created, who will effectively communicate concerns of the community. This group will have skills and training to seek solutions to problems through institutional processes.

An intensive baseline study was conducted providing recommendations and inputs for this training. The paralegal trainings have been designed, based on these recommendations. A group of 20 community members has been formed. It is envisaged that these groups will emerge as paralegal workers after an intensive process of training which has been rolled out by CEQUIN.

The trainings on human rights and law that have been initiated, are helping the community members to develop an understanding of the legal system. The idea is to enable them with knowledge and skills that will make them confident to use their advocacy skills to get their grievances addressed.

The ultimate goal is to help create and leave behind a permanent legal resource base in the community. As a result of this paralegal presence, we hope that a constantly growing number of community members will participate in addressing their problems and carry out interventions wherever possible in order to result in greater justice for the community.

Self Help Group (SHG)

The Jamia Nagar area is very conservative and women have rarely participated in the public space. Some sporadic efforts towards Self Help Group formations amongst women have been attempted in the past, but were not successful. This project is therefore treading very carefully to gain the confidence of the community. While the target group is women, men are also being engaged as partners. There is also an environment of communal alienation, in this area, which has to be tackled with sensitivity.

The Centre has dealt with all these challenges by systematically providing their staff with capacity building trainings in SHG formations. Following a training at Raebareli, CEQUIN's SHG mobiliser Bushra Qmar remarked, "it was inspirational to see how the SHG women have managed to acquire small pieces of land, and created livelihoods for themselves. If they can be successful in Uttar Pradesh, why not in Delhi? I have come back with several new ideas for our groups."

The capacity building of staff has borne results. The centre has succeeded in setting up 5 Self Help Groups with the help of its outreach workers. They have been proudly named by the community as Pragati, Bismillah, Vikas, Adarsh and Sakshi. 4 more groups have also been formed and are in its early stages.


Prior to independence, there were three village in the Jamia Nagar area, namely Taimoor Nagar inhabited by the Gujjar community, Joga Bai inhabited by the Yadav community (previously called Jodha Bai) and Okhla Gaon which had a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims. Most of the inhabitants were farmers. Today, most of the population in Jamia Nagar area are migrants from U.P. and Bihar and belong primarily to the Muslim community.

The ethos of this place has been moulded by the omnipresence of the Jamia University. Jamia Millia Islamia was originally established at Aligarh in 1920. In Urdu language, Jamia means 'University', and Millia means 'National'. The trio - Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari and Abdul Majeed Khwaja-supported by Gandhiji shifted Jamia from Aligarh to Karol Bagh, in New Delhi in 1925. Gandhiji boosted the morale of Jamia, saying, "The Jamia has to run. If you are worried about its finances, I will go about with a begging bowl". Jamia followed Gandhiji's constructive programme for self-reliance while it took to Charkhaand Takli as favoured vocations.

On 1 March 1935, the foundation stone for a school building was laid at Okhla, then a non-descript village in the southern outskirts of Delhi. In 1946, during Jamia's silver jubilee celebration, one could see the crisis that India had to face in the following year: Mr. and Mrs. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and Liyaqat Ali Khan were on one side of Dr. Zakir Husain, the vice chancellor, on the dias; Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Asaf Ali and Sir C Rajagolapachari were on the other side.The riots following partition that shook the northern India did affect Jamia; but not its campus. Gandhi observed that its campus remained "an oasis of peace in the Sahara" of communal violence.

Today the Muslim community in this area is rather ghettoised and isolated from the larger opportunities that the capital offers. This is particularly true of the women who have barely ever stepped out of this area. There is very little interaction that the rest of Delhi has as well, with this area. The Centre caters to women and girls from in and around the area comprising congested clusters of poor and predominantly Muslim households.

India Press Release

March 9, 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment