The Caste system in India is among the world's oldest forms of social stratification. The system traditionally divides the population into rigid hierarchical groups and dictates one’s life from birth. Limitations range from their social status, where they live, and even who they can marry.
The scheduled caste people, the Dalits, or “untouchables,” are left out of the caste system and are considered impure and polluting. In spite of different laws to protect the rights of these people, they still face the strongest discrimination and exclusion.
Settlements are segregated, the interaction between them is limited, and inter-caste marriage is socially prohibited.
To promote unity and integration, we support members of the women’s groups to see each other as fellow human beings and give space to understand each other irrespective of their socio-economic differences.
In addition to promoting solidarity, the exchange program empowers women to be independent. Normally women don’t get a chance to be away from home, and some don’t meet new friends after marriage other than their own family members. This activity allows women to meet new people and visit new areas around the bioregion.
How it works
A non-Dalit women’s SHG in a caste-segregated area visits a Dalit group in their settlement, and vice versa. They spend the day together cooking, eating, playing games, visiting the houses of the members, and sharing their experiences with one another. They are given a space to learn that they have more in common than they realize, despite the man-made societal differences.
The Impact - During the exchange visits, women welcome new friends, are empowered to become changemakers, learn how to support each other on a deeper level, and improve communication among different social groups that leads to an inclusive and integrated approach to development.
Each year 40 intercaste exchanges are organised.