Mahalir Sakthi means ‘Women Power’ in English.
Mahalir Sakthi started in 2005 and registered as an NGO in India in 2007, with the goal to empower children and women of the most disadvantaged communities in the slums of Madurai, Tamil Nadu to escape from poverty. Mahalir Sakthi aims to achieve this goal by:
- Providing educational encouragement, guidance, support and motivation to school children on the importance of education and assist them to excel in studies
- Provide skills training at vocational institutes for the unemployed youth and women as a means to promote self-employment
Since April 2012 indigo foundation has entered into an agreement with Mahalir Sakhti to financially and administratively support their programs, including:
- educational Summer Camps for Dalit children
- youth group meetings for Dalit children
- a tailoring centre and funds for a trainer and machine accessories to establish a typing school
- support for a Domestic Workers Union to push for fair wages and conditions for Dalit women
The word ‘Dalit’, in Sanskrit, means “oppressed” or “downtrodden”. ‘Dalits’ are the name of a group of people who are born into the bottom rung of India’s caste system. Tradition assigns Dalits to all dirty laborious work in society, including gutter cleaning, manual scavengers, toilet cleaners, and garbage removalists. Because of these traditional social structures in India, Dalits are at risk of discrimination, dehumanization, degradation, and violence every day. Dalit men often spend a major portion of their earning on alcohol and become bonded to money lenders, leaving the women as the main bread winners and the responsibility of taking care of their families rests upon them.
Dalit children are the major drop outs from their schools. Besides poverty they lack motivation and support from their parents, and are discriminated against by members of the community due to their dalit status. This results in children becoming child labours and inheriting the same demeaning tasks their parents performed. They are forced to continue to remain bonded to money lenders to pay back the loans raised by their families.
1.2 million Dalits live In Tamil Nadu and in Madurai there are 208 slums.