OFFICIALS GOT THE REAL PICTURE

Women told the gathering about difficulties they face in getting rations:

 
        Women-headed households find it hard to get ration cards in their names.
          Many shop owners refuse to give receipts for payments.
          Often, women on the ration vigilance committees are token representatives  
               who are not kept informed about anything.
          Sometimes women don't know about malpractices because they don't visit   
              the shops, their children usually go and buy the rations.
          Most of the women sarpanchas present and didn't know that they are   
              supposed to check ration stocks when they arrive. They simply sign the                 register when they are asked to.

Sayadbi, a shop owner from Naldurg explained difficulties faced by shopowners. While shop owners are supposed to have regular meetings with officials, these meetings rarely take place. So the shop owners don't have an opportunity to convey problems such as rations being in short supply, delays in getting stocks, low quality rations and transport costs!


EFFORTS TO IMPROVE ACCESS

LOCATING A ROLE FOR WOMEN'S GROUPS :
In 1998, Swayam Shikshan Prayog, an NGO working with women's collectives in 2 districts, began a systematic exploration of food security and rationing. The key questions for SSP were:

     
    
? How does the Public Distribution System function in rural areas?
       ? What are the problems people face with regard to accessing rations?
       ? How can women's collectives in rural areas intervene to address these  
            problems ?

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Setting A Precedent
In September 1998, impressed by the track record of women's collectives, the District Collector of Latur set a precedent by agreeing to put members of women's collectives on the ration vigilance committees. After women complained to him that they needed proof of their status as committee members, he has also provided identity cards to these members. After this, the Osmanabad Collector also agreed to allow women's collectives to nominate members on the Ration Vigilance Committee.


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