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20 Indian NGOs That Are Doing Exceptional Work

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By Tadrash Shah:

The government is to be ideally held responsible for the legal and constitutional matters. Now whether the Indian government can be held responsible for the same is a question. Who, then, should take care of the concerns that arise out of compassion and social responsibilities? Compassion triggers actions which, usually, are beyond constitutional matters but the good news is that the constitution does pay due respect to them and aids them within its own vista.

ngos

Our country is flooded with a number of NGOs and identifying the credible ones is really a tough task. There are reports of NGOs that are just set up to take over the government’s treasury in the veil of social service. I have tried to curate a list of the NGOs which are time, ethics and effort tested, by and large.

This list is not a ranking, the NGOs have been listed in no particular order.

1) PRS Legislative Research: PRS aims to deepen and broaden the legislative process by providing MPs with the necessary data and analysis for debates in parliament and for deliberations in committee meetings. This is done by synthesising feedback from a range of stakeholders to provide MPs with comprehensive information on an issue. The aim is to complement the knowledge base and expertise that already exists in the government, citizen’s groups, businesses, and other research institutions.

2) Save Life Foundation: Focused on enabling bystander care or community-driven emergency medical response for road accident victims, they have been training more than 3000 police personnel in the states of Delhi, UP and Maharashtra for the casualty and trauma care for road accidents. They have also been working on a supportive legal framework for bystanders to help the victims of road accidents. Usually people do not indulge in these cases fearing the formalities and police issues. Hence such an organization is much needed to nurture the kindness which is killed by our legal and formal procedures.

3) CGNet Swara: A voice portal that enables ordinary citizens to report and discuss issues of local interest. To use it, they call a phone number using any mobile (or fixed line) phone. Callers are prompted to press ‘1’ to record a new message, and ‘2’ to listen to messages that have already been recorded. Once a message has been recorded from the field, professional, trained journalists, who access the system using a web-based interface, review and verify the report. Approved reports are then made available for playback over the phone. The reports also can be accessed on the CGNet Swara website. This kindles the local intervention in dissemination of information of local interest and prompts them to use the technology which they, otherwise, would be reluctant to use.

4) Video Volunteers: An international community media organization equips women and men in underdeveloped areas with critical thinking, creative, activist and video journalism skills, enabling entire communities to expose underreported stories from their communities and take action to right the wrongs of poverty, injustice and inequality. Thus, it encourages community producers to have a voice and be recognized. And it would be redundant to mention that videos are the best source of being virally known over the media.

5) Chetna: Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action. CHETNA is an NGO working towards the empowerment of street and working children in a participatory approach. They are given a chance to develop some understanding of their situation, their rights and opportunities. CHETNA provides education, counselling, recreational activities, and a framework to get organized.

6) Breakthrough: This is an initiative that has primary focus on human rights activities. They devise innovative strategies, customized for each issue this country witnesses, to engage youth participation rather than just documentation and conventional rallies. They engage in partnerships, develop grassroots actions, audit the impact and share lessons with all the stakeholders to direct further actions, train leaders and use media, art, culture and technology to reach mass audiences. The innovative strategies they have come up with seems promising.

7) Jagori: Jagori undertakes training, documentation, grassroots action research, advocacy and campaigning in partnership with stakeholders including individual women and their partners, community members, civil society representatives, and other state/ institutional actors. It works on awareness building on violence, health, education, development, and other issues critical for women´s individual and collective empowerment. It also works on production and distribution of creative material on feminist issues, dissemination of information and knowledge on feminist concerns to meet the needs of women´s groups, NGOs, and development organizations and advocacy on women´s rights and gender equality.

8) Arth India: Academy for Applied Research and Training in Healthcare in India is a non-government initiative striving for the attainment of better health of the community supplementing, and not substituting, the existing and future government systems and networks in healthcare in India. It believes that the non-availability, sub-optimal quality and relative lack of credibility of healthcare personnel, of the health-related data and information are the two major impediments against optimum healthcare delivery in the country. It works to bridge these gaps.

9) SAMA: Sama addresses the need to develop the broader understanding of women’s health through physical, social and political environments and to initiate interventions that enable and empower them to control these factors. They conduct awareness drives, working with adolescent girls to enhance their self-confidence, sensitize women to address their unequal and exploitative arrangements and relationships, research and document issues critical to women’s health and build a consensus to get to the police.

10) Centre for Health and Social Justice: CHSJ works in four thematic areas to strengthen the claim of citizens pertaining to many health related rights viz – Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, Social Exclusion and Health Rights, Community Action for Health Rights and Gender Equality. Through all these, CHSJ largely focuses on evidence-based capacity building.

11) TARSHI: TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues) works towards expanding sexual and reproductive choices in people’s lives in an effort to enable them to enjoy lives of dignity, freedom from fear, infection and reproductive and sexual health problems. It runs an infoline, conducts trainings, develops publications, participates in public awareness and education initiatives, and provides technical support for advocacy initiatives.

12) North East Network: The organization has been raising women’s rights issues, particularly within the developmental and political context of the North East region of India. NEN responds to specific needs of women in north east India such as gender budgetary allocations, strengthening support services for women affected by violence, and security of women in conflict areas through fact finding processes and advocacy with the government through workshops, training and publications.

13) MARG: Multiple Actions Research Group. MARG works for the legal empowerment of the vulnerable and the marginalized, women, children, persons with disabilities, dalits, the poor, etc. MARG works towards its mottos through legal awareness drives, necessary legal assistance and advocacy, capacity building and policy development.

14) Centre for Social Research: It has been around for more than three decades and CSR works towards empowerment of women and girls in India, guarantee their fundamental rights, and increase understanding of social issues from a gender perspective. They operate on local, national and regional levels in an effort to enhance the capacities of individuals, communities and institutions for creating a humane, equitable and gender-just society.

15) CREA: CREA works towards a theory of change through building the self-confidence, leadership, and knowledge of women and girls about their sexuality and human rights, and creating feminist platforms to challenge oppressive norms and power structures. It also provides technical assistance to the fellow NGOs, donor agencies and other institutions through strategic planning, legal and other trainings, design, planning and implementation.

16) Pravah: Pravah is one such organization that works closely with the youth through the youth. It aims at moulding change-makers and leaders out of young people. It promotes youth citizenship action and issues of social justice. They have recently expanded to the dimensions of training teachers, incubating new initiatives and facilitative work with other organizations working on youth development.

17) Digital Empowerment Foundation: DEF works towards empowering people with the power of ICT. It works on various agendas like citizen journalism, digital panchayat, eNGO, gyanpedia- a digital repository with content created by children and teachers of rural schools, community radio, internet rights and many more. For DEF the means does not matter unless it is something from the ICT domain, what matters is the result and mass upliftment. They work towards development in the current scenario and it welfares the beneficiaries long with the viral spread of ICT.

18) Aarzoo: Arzoo is an education and activity centre created with an aim to provide a secure knowledge and livelihood base to the underprivileged children though moral, social and material support. It undertakes activities like education at nominal fees for 10 INR, supports their livelihood by selling handicrafts made by these kids, plays, shows, medical camps, etc. Personally, this is one of those NGOs that does wonderful work in educating underprivileged children and saving them from child labour and also giving them a livelihood to incentivize their parents.

19) Honey Bee Network : HoneyBee Network, established by IIM-A professor Anil Gupta, has a wonderful logo that communicates its motto — A nameless, faceless person comes in the contact of Honey Bee network and gets a face. It works towards identifying the grassroots innovators from across the villages of the country by organizing learning walks — Shodhyatras and then try to document, research and fabricate a commercially viable solution. It has established a sister organization called SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technology and Institutions) which works in four domains of innovation: Educational, Cultural, Technological and Institutional innovations.

20) Smile Foundation: Since 2002, Smile Foundation has been working on ensuring education for children, livelihood for the youth, healthcare in rural villages and urban slums, women empowerment and sensitization of the privileged masses.
It is an NGO which applies successful business strategies to social ventures. Its popularity is unparalleled.

 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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