Report by Nikhat Fatima & Juveria Farheen

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has a lot of spirit of charity. It’s been working for about 75 years in various social fields, be it in relief work or upliftment of weaker sections; the record is available in the public domain. Shaista Rafat, Member Advisory Committee JIH Ladies Wing, said while presiding over the online panel discussion on Women’s NGOs: Opportunities and Challenges on June 18.

Ms. Rafat also brought home the point that a secure and prosperous society is a human need. She highlighted that people with a passion for helping others can alone work with an NGO. This is nothing new as the spirit to help and uplift others dates back to centuries ago although the spirit to work in this field in an organised manner developed in the nineteenth century.

The Women’s Department of JIH organised this panel discussion in order to bring insights from NGOs working in different states regarding the topic and prepare a strategy to see how things could be improved in the future.

In her keynote speech, Professor Neelam Sukhramani, Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) called on NGOs to effect a change in social behaviour of people. For this she suggested focusing on children right from an early age. Children should be encouraged to question social norms so that they may develop critical thinking.

Dr. Sukhramani also suggested that innovative and creative methods are to be adopted to sort out the problems. People must be taught to respect not just elders but also the freedom of other persons. We should think about short term and long term consequences of various problems like early marriage, dowry, spending a lot on arranging functions like marriage parties, etc.

Participating in the panel discussion, Flavia Agnes, Director and Co-Founder of Majlis said that they have lady lawyers who can deal with women issues like rape, domestic violence, etc. and women can feel comfortable to share their problems with these ladies.

Another panellist Rubina Nafees Fatima, Director SAFA, said that SAFA intervened in the education system and is trying to provide education for the children who cannot afford it. She also suggested that we can donate and help in improving the condition of government schools so that students can get better facilities.

Dr. Pankti Jog, Executive Secretary, Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pehal, shared her experiences of RTI.

“The more you work on sensitive issues the more challenges you will have to handle,” she said. Another important point she highlighted is that it is not enough to help the victims of any oppression but we have to knock at the door of the conscience of oppressors so that they may stop oppression.

Tabassum Naz, Jankalyan Shikshan Prashikshan Samiti, Pilibhit, said that their NGO deals with the problems of the village people. Field work is very challenging there as the people don’t co-operate easily and accept the changes only after motivation.

Dr. Sharnaz Muthu, Treasurer of TWEET (The Women Education and Empowerment Trust), explained the various fields like entrepreneurship, health, education, and widow support, etc. where this NGO helps the women. Replying to a question, she clarified that TWEET does not undertake any long term plan because the NGO has to work on the specified projects only.

Dr. Zarina PP, Treasurer of Kerala-based WINGS said their NGO deals with professional women and the challenges faced by them, legal advice on their issues, maintaining balance between work and family, etc. They have psychologists for guidance and help. Zarina shared her experiences of collaborations with other people and other sectors to overcome the challenges an NGO goes through. She gave an example of counselling jail inmates through psychologists for their betterment.

Shakun Doundiyakhed, CIEDS Collective, Bangalore, talked about two important aspects of NGO: issues of leadership in an NGO and the acceptance of the fact that different people take on different roles. An NGO flourishes when it draws upon the skills of everybody. The key takeaway was that the role as an NGO is to monitor the government agencies and make them work properly. She also informed the audience that their NGO started with issues of violence against women; they do fact-finding studies on the various issues. She underlined the need to address the entire society, including youth and men to sort out the problems of various types.

The online panel discussion began with the recitation by Minal Kehkashan followed by its translation by Mohsina Sachora. Fakhira Tabassum extended a warm welcome to all the esteemed speakers. The moderator Shayma S., Research Scholar of JNU and Sub-Editor of Aura, set the conversation rolling in an efficient manner.

Arefa Parveen coordinated the programme. She also extended a vote of thanks to the panellists and the viewers.

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