Recognising the need to raise awareness and maximise participation from rural communities in the electoral process, the Election Commission of India has initiated ‘Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation’(SVEEP) programme. The initiative is being supported by Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) amongst poor & marginalised indigenous communities of Khunti district in Jharkhand. The Lok Sabha Election in Khunti district of Jharkhand is scheduled on 6th May 2019. The ambition is to ensure at least 80% voter turnout on election day 6th May 2019.
“Our entire team at Khunti comprising of eight professionals and two support staff have been involved in the campaign. This is not a funded initiative, however, at PRADAN we are committed towards all the 47,600 families of Khunti whom we work with through 3,000 SHGs. PRADAN has been working on awareness and education programmes with local communities for over 25 years.” said Prem Shankar, Team Coordinator, PRADAN. The entire initiative will reach around 4,000 people from about 35 villages. PRADAN has conducted awareness campaigns in Gopla, Gufu, Jaria and Husir villages with participation from the local women SHG members. The campaign seeks to educate voters about accepted identification at polling booths; impressing the importance of the right to choose freely and creating awareness about checking and adding one's name to the voting list.
The local district administration is working with various stakeholders including NGOs, local federations, banks, and media to organize voter awareness campaigns under SVEEP. As a key partner on various government flagship programmes in the past, PRADAN was an obvious choice for the district administration for outreach to the remote areas. PRADAN believes that not only it is important for people to vote so as to become more visible to government bodies as an active voting area but also that exercising adult franchise is an essential part of their work related to rights and entitlement.
PRADAN was founded with the idea that young people, with compassion and competence, must work with the most marginalised sections to shape a just and equitable society. PRADAN has been spearheading ‘Just and Equitable Society’ - empowering communities to take charge of their own development. PRADAN works in seven states of Central and Eastern India, which have significant number of rural poor, empowering them to shape their own lives. PRADAN’s 36 year engagement at the grassroots has seen PRADAN grow to be regarded as India’s foremost NGO working on rural transformation. PRADAN has been a path breaker in adoption of gender diversity for development, and are regarded as the leaders in innovation in the social sector.
Towards, this PRADAN worked with 764,539 households through 58,316 SHGs and their Federations to deepen their engagement at the village, Gram Panchayat and block levels. PRADAN facilitated these women’s collectives increasingly to be the drivers of change in their area. These collectives led actions on livelihoods, addressing gender inequities and participatory governance, improving access to education and health services and nutrition to women.
To realise the vision of a just and equitable society, PRADAN seeks to expand its reach three-fold to 10 million by 2022, which is 15% of poorest families in the poorest 52 districts of India. Change at this scale will substantially impact the conception and delivery of public programmes and create multiple ‘impact nuclei’ that will trigger economic vibrancy locally, allowing many more to merge out of poverty as a consequence.