Creating two-way communication networks in Rajasthan for empowering Women

Program and Activities – To improve the quality of life of the women in Rajasthan who are being oppressed and create a sustainable two-way communication network that enables them gain access to INFORMATION ON the most pressing issues of the local people; and advocate for policy changes at a state and national level through mainstream media.

OUTPUT 1 – Nurturing a pool of community-based writers and social advocates, mainly women

1. Organizing writing workshops focusing on development –related issues focusing on livelihood and social welfare schemes

2. Conduct field visits with the target group where they will learn to interact with the community, conduct interviews with the villagers specially womenfolk in order to understand and highlight their wellbeing and development.

3. Regular feedback from the editorial team to the writers on writing style and content for future advocacy stories

4. Motivating them through published articles, awards and time bound internships

OUTPUT 2 – Placement of quality articles on relevant issues in mainstream media

1. Editing and placement of articles generated from the writing workshops in leading newspapers, magazines, web portals at state and national level in Urdu, Hindi and English

2. Build strong media relationships at state and national level to have regular feedbacks about the placement of Charkha articles

3. By posting Charkha articles on leading social media like Facebook, Twitter, Blog to connect the rural issues with diverse audiences and policy makers who are active on these platforms.

Background of the Program – In the districts (We would choose a maximum of up to 3 districts based on the intensity of the issue and size of the districts) of Rajasthan we would be targeting the communities where violence against women is largely prevalent through our interventions indirectly and directly through various government schemes.

Project duration – One year from the date of signing the agreement.

Output 1 and Output 2 will commence immediately after the completion of the first workshop. Tangible impact with evidence will be seen from 1 month after publication of the first article.

Problems or Issues that the project aims to address – Community strengths identified among the women in the course of the project’s activities will be recognized and highlighted by writing about positive stories in the mainstream media. This is intended to address the prevalent attitude among the people – especially women – of being ignored in the development agenda of the state and the nation. It is also intended to emphasize the strengths of the hard-working women of the region, who carry the burden of being the bedrock of a stable society but are pushed to the background by the pervasive patriarchal thinking.

An important aspect of reducing the sense of isolation among the

Rajasthan women is enhanced communications both, among the people and with the outside world. This is intended to be achieved by improving the communication skills of the youth, particularly women, so that their valuable perspectives can inform the development debate in – and for – the region.

Identifying and nurturing change makers, an intended impact of the initiative, will enable potential leaders to find the nurturing space to grow as individuals and enhance their leadership skills in taking the young generation forwards towards a balanced, sustainable development model.

Communities building bridges with communications

Location – District Kupwara, Kashmir Valley, Jammu & Kashmir State.

Support – British High Commission

Period – 2009 to 2011

Context – Charkha’s first direct engagement with rural communities in the state, the initiative saw writing workshops being conducted in the remotest border district of Kupwara, which had suffered the highest casualties during the decades of militancy and was believed to have the highest number of widows and orphans in the conflict-affected Valley. In addition to writing articles carried in the national mainstream media, the project facilitated access to the information required to improve the people’s access to Government benefits like pensions, scholarships and other welfare schemes. The improvement in linkages between the people and the State was the primary challenge addressed by the project.

Purpose – Improved communication skills to articulate development concerns and access development programs by communities in remote villages of Kashmir.

Outputs – Improve intro- and inter-communication linkages between communities living in remote areas of Kashmir valley on the India side. Build skills of remote communities to share their perspectives on their development, using appropriate media Provide an accessible source of credible information on education, livelihood and development issues.

Activities – Conduct writing workshops to teach local communities inKupwara area how to articulate their development concerns and share positive stories through improved writing. Establish a Resource Centre at Kupwara collating information about development opportunities; livelihood options; access to basic amenities like education, health and connectivity for remote locations; and their role in environmental conservation Encourage local writers to write on development issues of the rural communities with the support and guidance of the members of the Kashmir Women’s Forum, and disseminate these writings through Charkha’s Trilingual Feature Services.

Special Project – Raising funds from individual donors and friends of Charkha, a Relief Project after the 2005 earthquake in a very remote earthquake-affected village, Dragad, along the LoC in Kupwara District provided immediate relief to those most affected. A subsequent Earthquake Rehabilitation Project taught the women the embroidery and commercial skills required to work towards sustainable livelihood options. The nine-month skill training was completed in September 2009.

Community networks for an inclusive civil society

Location – District Poonch, Jammu region, Jammu & Kashmir State

Support – British High Commission

Period – 2012 to 2015

Context – The encouraging response received from the initial forays into the remote Poonch District at the Line of Control (LoC) in Year 1 (2012-13) formed the foundation for local youth learning the skills and accessing the information required to improve their access to Government benefits like pensions, scholarships and other welfare schemes. The improvement in linkages between the people and the State is the touchstone of these efforts. This is particularly crucial in a region that has seen the conflict for many decades now, and the youth keen to meet their aspirations for a better quality of life for themselves and their communities.

Purpose – Local communities’ capacities built to highlight their development issues through the media and improve their access to State delivery mechanisms

Outputs – Local groups’ capacities developed to write articles on local development concerns of the people and successful community initiatives Improved awareness of State-sponsored schemes and opportunities among local communities Network linkages comprising local communities, State departments and civil society organizations for follow up and accessing/availing services

Activities – Several residential Skill Building Sessions on Media & Social Advocacy Creating a platform for Government officials to interact with the Media Advocates (rural writers) and Social Advocates (those helping people with availing welfare benefits) being nurtured through the skill-building processes Setting up a Rural Resource Centre where youth share their writings and experiences; gain digital literacy and access information about Government policies and schemes Disseminating articles through Charkha Feature Service in English, Hindi and Urdu Sanjoy Ghose Media Fellowships 2013 announced.

Building the abilities of the disabled

Location – District Leh, Ladakh region, Jammu region, Jammu & Kashmir State

Support – Business & Community Foundation, Australian High Commission, Uniti Foundation – India

Period – 2008 Onwards

Context – The plight of disabled people in the geographically difficult terrain of Ladakh poses a fundamental challenge to their empowerment. Facilities that can give them a life of dignity are virtually non-existent; the remoteness restricts them to their houses. The isolation is made worse by social discrimination, for congenital disability is seen as a sign of evil. Education and employment opportunities are virtually nil. Strengthening the disability movement was paramount so that the sustainability of the initiative could be ensured. A group of disabled people in Leh, led by remarkable Md. Iqbalrun People’s Action Group for Inclusion & Rights (PAGIR), a respected non-profit that advocates for the socio-economic inclusion of people with disabilities. The group formed the base of Charkha’s activities in the region.

Purpose – Increased awareness and linkages between the disabled in rural communities, Government and Civil Society Organizations in Ladakh to highlight their strengths, capabilities and needs through an Abilities Mela and other outreach activities

Outputs – Highlight the perspectives of the disabled among the communities by organizing a Mela that brings together the disabled, Civil Society Organizations, government officials and media Dissemination of information for the empowerment of the PWDs through sustainable efforts by communities themselves, Civil Society organizations and Government initiatives
Explore local initiatives by trained the disabled to access communication and information mechanisms and take informed decisions for their empowerment, relating to better education, health and livelihood opportunities

Activities – Organize Abilities Mela to provide a common platform for Civil Society to network on disability issues and advocate for inclusiveness at all levels
Create a network comprising organizations like MESH that trains the disabled in artisan skills; individual designers for quality inputs; and with Air India that delivered a large quantity of newspaper (used as raw material to make paper products) from Delhi to Leh for two yrs Cover issues related to the disabled on a regular basis in the regional media as well as in the national mainstream through Charkha’s Feature Services Collation of resource material to share with participant organizations to strengthen their work with the disabled

Building bridges with communications creating two-way communication network in Ladakh for empowering youth, particularly women

Location – District Kargil, Ladakh region, Jammu & Kashmir State

Support – Unniti – India

Period – 2009 Onwards

Context – Tough geography and harsh climate have protected and isolated Ladakh from the world outside, as also its proximity to a controversial international border. This has created unusual circumstances within which everyday life is a challenge. Making basic services available is a challenge for the State. However, speaking up against the flawed elements in governance and questioning inequitable social norms steeped in conservative patriarchal tradition requires an appropriate platform, which the Charkha initiative seeks to create with a small group of local youth, particularly women.

Purpose – To create a sustainable two-way communication network that enables young people, especially women, gain access to the most pressing issues of the local people; and advocate for policy changes at a state and national level through mainstream media

Outputs – Nurturing a pool of community-based young writers and social advocates, especially women Placement of quality articles on relevant issues in mainstream media

Create effective platforms connecting young people with PRI members, District administration, civil society organizations and local media

Activities – Strengthening women’s groups like SHGs to access livelihood skills and engage with governance institutions like the Hill Council and Government departments Skill Building Sessions for creative use of Media like print media and All India Radio Dissemination of information on development issues for informed decision making.

Environmental education in schools through the creative use of media

Location – Districts of South Andaman and North-&-Middle-Andaman Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Support – Sir Dorabji Tata Trust

Period – 2007 to 2013

Context – The Project had seen the establishment of 25 Eco Clubs in government schools across the Andaman group of Islands by the end of the project period. The primary challenge was to sustain the initiative by strengthening linkages with the UT’s Administration across departments such that the Eco Clubs do not become an isolated set of project activities but are integrated into the development agenda of the islands’ governance. The local administration included the project’s learnings into the curriculum of the schools, and implemented the due process to make locally relevant environmental information a part of the curriculum in all shells of the Union Territory, thus sustaining the project’s objectives.

Purpose – To create environmental awareness among local stakeholders by making available environmental information in Eco Clubs in schools, creating a communication network comprising local communities, government institutions and the local media (newspapers and All India Radio)

Outputs – Improved Communication Skills among school children to effectively highlight the environmental challenges facing the fragile islands Involvement of local communities, government departments and Media in improving environmental awareness through appropriate media

Activities – Setting up and running Eco Clubs in schools, incorporating classroom and field activities into the co-curricular exercises Working with teachers and the local administration on making this an integral part of the education system across the Union Territory Creating resource material and teaching aids specific to the Island ecosystems Networking with all associated Government departments to create a sustainable and balanced resource pool.

Youth participation for social change

Location – District Kanker, Bastar region, Chhattisgarh State

Support – Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Canadian High Commission, UNICEF, through Kushabhau Thakre Media University, Raipur

Period – 2004 to 2012

Context – The Bastar region of south Chhattisgarh has been besieged by Maoist violence for over a decade, although the simmering dissent among the indigenous communities –rooted in socio-economic injustice and corruption – dates back much longer. Despite Government efforts to open up the area to development through the construction of roads and larger administrative budgets, Kanker remains among the most backward districts in the state. Clashes between the Government security forces and the Maoists leave behind an air of mistrust and fear, which is still palpable in the thickly forested villages. Internal displacement away from the forests have disrupted the traditionally sustainable ways of life; while inadequate livelihood skills have added to the vulnerability of the communities, particularly the educated unemployed youth

Purpose – Local youth skilled to highlight their development issues through their writings which are channeled for dissemination through the mainstream media

Outputs – Rural writers’ nurtured to write articles on local development concerns of the people Improved awareness of Government schemes and opportunities among local youth

Activities – Skill Building Sessions on Writing & Social Advocacy Field visits to teach advocacy skills and collecting information for balanced reportage Disseminating writings thus generated through Charkha’s Feature Service to popular publications and web portals in English, Hindi and Urdu

Empowering disadvantaged rural communities in Bihar through access to information and communication

Location – Districts Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Samastipur & Muzaffarpur, Bihar State

Support – Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Canadian High Commission, PSI – India

Period – 2005 onwards

Context – In Bihar, rural communities residing in 72% of the area struggle each year to cope with the impacts of recurring floods. Their vulnerability to climate change is the result of many socio-economic, cultural and political factors, as well as environmental stress. Environmental stress tends to exacerbate the growing economic, social, political and cultural inequalities that disproportionately affect the rural poor in states like Bihar. The emphasis of development efforts must, therefore, be on enhancing the capacities of rural communities to adapt to the impending changes and increased vulnerability.

Purpose – Creation of a community-owned Integrated Communication Network, developed and operated by the people themselves, that empowers them to take informed decisions for their own development

Outputs – Improved Communication Skills among rural community groups and media persons to effectively highlight development issues among rural communities. Increased access to information about development issues among rural groups and local writers/media persons

Activities – Skill Building Sessions with young people for creative use of Community Media Development Media Orientation Sessions with mainstream print media/freelance writers/stringersGeneration of articles on development issues of the most social-economically disadvantaged communities Creation of Wall Magazines by trained rural groups for disseminating information and encouraging discussion among target beneficiaries and family influencers.

Our work in Uttar Pradesh with Government of U.P., National Health Mission (NHM), U.P. Technical Support Unit (UP-TSU) and Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR)

Project Period – Ongoing

Project Title – Training of Trainers for Nodal Officers implementing IEC / BCC Activities and Skill Building Processes

Process (Setting Aims)

  1. To train health professionals to utilize communication and mainstream media to bring about behavior change among people most in need of it and thereby save lives.
  2. To strengthen trainees knowledge of communication as a science and the planning and implementation process and be technically informed and competent.
  3. To enable the trainees to target realistically and engage with the audience in a non-judgmental manner.
  4. To be able to re-train and impart skills to frontline workers and healthcare providers – ASHA, ANMS and Anganwadi teams.

Key Objectives

Maternal health – Strengthening risk perception

Newborn health Awareness of the need for essential newborn care

Child health Knowhow on risk reduction steps and services

Adolescent health Realize that they are invaluable assets and invest in their health

Family Planning – Access to reproductive health is a human right. Therefore, the narrative around family planning should be more on planning families as against merely restricting the number of children

Non-Communicable Diseases – Early detection and management of Non-Communicable Diseases with lifestyle modifications and treatment is essential


Everyone must be aware of the risks women and infants face during pregnancy and delivery.

What should be done?

ASHA workers must support and facilitate women to access services for themselves and their newborn by assisting them in to go health facilities for institutional deliveries.

Ensure the care of the newborn with proper cord care and early initiation of breastfeeding.

Protect children against diseases

Disabuse the misconceptions people have about immunization.

Encourage caregivers to seek timely medical care for any health emergency or disease.

Emphasize on the importance of nutritional intake and mental and physical health, with and for adolescents, to enable them to realize their full potential.

Method/Process Lecture, interaction and Demonstration, reading reference materials and activities generally include three components –

Text, Narrative, Captions – written or spoken a language that provides information or instructions about the topic or the use of the material/activity. Some materials contain only the written word (e.g., brochures) or narrative (e.g., audiotapes), and some contain both (e.g., games, videotapes)

Visuals – photographs, cartoons, drawings, images, graphics and other representations of people, places and things that communicate a message or action to the viewer

Format – the style and amount of “white space” (or empty space) in a piece of material; the sequence of events and length of time of an activity

Keep in mind the various advantages and disadvantages of different media when deciding or developing them for your target audience.

Translating Audience Insight and Skills for Developing Print Content on the Health Mission Programme

Learning Objective – Participants will learn to develop content for different print products from the data/evidence

Output – Develop all the elements – story ideas, symbols, arguments, messages and voices and create features, case studies and website briefs

Charkha’s project on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with National Foundation of India (NFI)

Project Title – Popularization and outreach of Sustainable Development Goals through print and digital media

Project Duration – 1st September 2017 to 31st March 2018

Project Background

India attaches high priority to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which the United Nations adopted unanimously in September 2015.  SDGs are comprehensive and focus on five Ps – people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.  The role of State Governments is central to the implementation of these programs as well as designing convergences with the SDGs in order to effectively influence all social and economic parameters to achieve the SDGs.  

The SDGs are a set of 17 specific goals offering a special focus on important areas related to sustainable development that require urgent and extensive attention at present and in the near future.

Project Deliverables –

Each article written will be published in English, Hindi and Urdu in leading National and Regional dailies across the country and in a wide range of web portals to be able to provide maximum coverage and reach and to popularize all the SDGs.

There will be 40 articles in English, 40 articles in Hindi and 40 articles in Urdu.

Each article will be published in a minimum of 1 newspaper.  After the article is published, the editorial staff will be responsible for posting the article on Charkha’s Facebook page to garner greater reach.

To help you understand the reach that Charkha can provide through its feature service, an Excel sheet is attached for your reference mentioning the names of the papers with their reach in which Charkha articles will be published.

Project Purpose –

To deliver reliable, in-depth, cutting edge stories on various issues like health education, etc. in English, Hindi and Urdu to audiences across the country through print & digital platform.

A recent study showed that English and Hindi dailies across the country devote a miniscule proportion (about 2%) of their total coverage to rural issues.  Television has not fared any better, with rural news not getting more than 7% of total news time on any news channel.

Charkha’s objective is to move these figures upwards in both print as well as digital form through its large network of media advocates.  Charkha’s aim and focus will be to take the issues of these States to audiences across the country.  This will be done in a manner where not only every issue is highlighted but the Sustainable Development Goals also gave equal importance.