Every nonprofit in India is trying to gain equal opportunities for its beneficiaries
SOCIAL justice is what every nonprofit believes in – that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Often the inequality is about access and discrimination against groups and NGOs the world over fight to attain these for their beneficiaries.
Like the story of the manual scavenger in remote Madhya Pradesh who had inherited the job of cleaning dry latrines in the village from her mother-in-law as soon as she became the ‘bahu’. Or the millions of children in India whose growth is stunted or they die before they turn five because their poverty-struck parents can’t give them enough to eat. Or the nine-year-old girl who has to stay home instead of going to school to look after her younger siblings while her parents work in the fields.
These are all different kinds of social injustice that today, February 20, the World Day of Social Justice acknowledges. It also recognises the need to implement social justice through efforts to tackle issues that still plague a globalised world – poverty, gender inequality, and human rights, amongst others.
Social justice is the foundation stone of the Indian Constitution too, with the aim of equal opportunity to every citizen in the matter of social and economic activities and to prevent inequalities. To uphold these rights awarded by the lawmakers of this country, here are a pick of five organisations working towards a just society.
5 Indian NGOs that are furthering the cause of social justice
Started in 2000, Jan Sahas – meaning People’s Courage – focussed on awareness and community empowerment to end manual scavenging. Today they have broadened the scope of their efforts and strive to eliminate forced labour and end gender, caste and sexual violence. They support the most marginalized social groups. Changing hearts and minds is what Jan Sahas wants to achieve, and it works with young people through community mobilization in 68 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR and Bihar.
A grassroots level organization, Tijala Society has been working for the underprivileged and marginalized people of Kolkata for the last 30 years. Tijala seeks to empower and transform the lives of rag pickers and their families who have been neglected and socially ostracized. It also works with related vulnerable groups like child labourers and street dwellers. Their efforts are concentrated on uplifting the poorest of the poor in the slums and squatter camps in the city, who lack even the most basic necessities like safe drinking water and sanitation.
Centre For Social Action works with community based organizations to develop an awareness of the social problems of vulnerable groups of children and women and respond with various resources to solve them. Some of their initiatives include providing supplementary classes for children across the districts of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad. Their aim is to lower their school drop-out rate, enhance their learning through a play-way method of teaching, and improve the functioning of the schools by training the parents to participate in parent-teacher meetings.
It has a Children’s Parliament to provide a platform for awareness of local social issues and response using democratic processes to inculcate leadership skills and prepare the children to become empowered citizens of tomorrow. CSA has been enhancing livelihoods through skills development of vulnerable individuals and groups, including financial literacy classes for women.
CYSD is on a mission to enable the marginalized to improve their quality of life. The organisation has been working with tribal communities and rural poor in Odisha to eradicate extreme poverty, ensuring social justice and inclusion. It helps communities identify and initiate development measures, provides training and other capacity-building support to organizations working to help people escape poverty.
CYSD also carries out research and advocacy in favour of the underprivileged people especially tribals. It has reached out to 18 lakh people living across 8,500 villages in 12 districts of Odisha through direct project interventions and partner networks.
HST is a community-based organisation working on health and human rights of LGBTQ since 1994. Through targeted HIV interventions, they currently reach out to 7,500 LGBT communities in Mumbai. They also undertake numerous advocacy activities focussed on LGBTQ rights, including sensitisation and awareness of employers, educational institutes, law enforcement agencies and government bodies. HST builds capacities of partner organisations in 27 Indian states on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and on advocacy for LGBTQ rights.
As human beings, all of us have rights and responsibilities and must make efforts, no matter how small, to safeguard the rights of others, especially the less privileged. Let us take inspiration and do what we can to build an inclusive society where everyone is well fed, has a roof over their head, does meaningful work that imparts dignity and the resources to live a full life.
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Samar is a Marketing Communications specialist and freelance writer. She has a master’s in marketing and creativity from ESCP Business School. She is an avid traveler and likes to write about technology, travel, wildlife and sustainability.