History

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Anweshi’s formation as a women’s movement and women’s organization has its roots in the Anweshi Women’s Counselling Centre, established in November 1993. The centre is part of a network of small, radical, women’s emancipation groups in Kerala called the Kerala Sthree Vedi (Kerala Women’s Forum), that was formed in 1996. The KSV is a common forum for diverse women’s groups to plan joint action for political demands of the women’s movement. Anweshi began work in a context when Kerala society is historically experiencing the bitter fruits of economic and cultural globalization and its resulting transformation of the lives of women. The Anweshi Women’s Counselling Centre (Anweshi in short) is a women’s organization registered under section 21 of the Societies’ Registration Act of 1860. The project, Anweshi Women’sSupport and Advocacy Centre was initiated in January 2000. Although Anweshi began its work in the Kozhikode district of North Kerala, over the years its activities have been extended to adjacent districts of Malappuram, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargode. Anweshi has been collaborating with other NGOs and government departments in its efforts to highlight the issue of growing violence against women in Kerala and in its struggle to get justice for women and children who are victims of such violence. In January 2000, we received the UNFPA grant under their Support to Gender Issues Programme. This grant came through the Central Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This grant completely changed the scope of our work. Counselling, legal aid cell, community work and the library were given an entirely new impetus by appointing experts and professionals. The quantity and quality of our work enhanced almost threefold. We could conduct regular legal literacy classes, seminars and workshops. A library with rare books on feminism, and documentation work was taken up in a systematic way. This grant ended in February 2003. From July 2003 onwards we started receiving grants from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, which sanctioned funds for the Short Stay Home also. The opening of the Short Stay Home was one of the landmarks in the development of the organization and its work, which gave a new dimension to the way we could deal with the cases of violence. It not only provided the much-needed shelter but a new hope to the totally helpless and powerless women and children making their rehabilitation safer and comparatively easier. This grant helped Anweshi organize itself and develop and demonstrate a comprehensive approach to address violence against women. Through this the leadership and the staff gained much confidence and the organization was placed on a firm footing.

Anweshi reaches out to women in rural and urban areas of northern Kerala through a network of community workers who maintain constant contact with local areas and intervene in gender issues. Anweshi provides an active forum for collective intervention on women’s issues through the Counselling centre which untangles cases of domestic violence, through legal aid and literacy workshops in remote areas, and campaigns designed to heighten awareness on sexual harassment and gender related issues. As a result of sustained work, cases which sometimes fail at the police stations or courts are now being referred to Anweshi.

 

 


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