‘Pennidam’, a project conceived by the gender team of the Thrissur Kudumbashree Mission, is slowly making tribal hamlets women- and child-friendly and becoming a tribal development model for the State.
Pennidam aimed at making every home a safe zone for women and children, said U. Monisha, Thrissur District Programme Manager of the mission.
“During our visits to tribal hamlets, we realised that only an intensive and continuous intervention could make tribal homes women- and child-friendly,” said Ms. Monisha.
Cramped houses without any means of entertainment or exposure pushed the tribal community to frustrations and violence. “Actually gender equality existed in tribal society, maybe in a better way, than the so-called developed communities. But patriarchy and other gender discriminations seeped into the hamlets with their exposure to the outer world,” said Monisha.
Pennidam, which was launched under the guidance of District Mission Coordinator K.V. Jyothish Kumar in November 2020, focused first on capacity building of women. It was initiated at the Vazhachal and Pokalappara hamlets in Athirappilly grama panchayat as a pilot project.
As economic independence was key to empowering the women, the mission initiated income-generating activities. Various activities and group projects are being organised. Until now, nearly five activities were organised ensuring participation of all women.
“Improving physical and mental fitness was very important in making women more active and confident. In the absence of physical activities, they tend to withdraw to themselves. Their low self-esteem made them more vulnerable,” Monisha said.
Activity groups were formed and these groups were trained in sports and games such as football, volleyball and badminton. Sports events were conducted. To improve their mental health, counselling and group therapies were organised.
With the intensive interventions of two experienced resource persons, Nissy Anil and Shaji Joby, changes are already visible. “Sporting activities changed their attitude towards life. They have become more positive. The women started sharing their issues. Now they practice football and volleyball even without our guidance. Husbands, who earlier refused to send their wives for the games, now come to watch them play.”
Active participation of women has been ensured in all sustainable development planning in the hamlets.