WHAT ACTION WOMEN'S COLLECTIVES WILL BE TAKING

Give information and talk about what action women can take in different forums:
          
Savings and credit groups,
          
Shop-wise meetings of ration cardholders.
          
Call a meeting of anganwadi (pre-school) workers
          
Raise rationing issues in the village assembly gram sabha
          
Call a meeting of those who represent the poorest communities to ensure
                 that they get poor households on the Below the Poverty Line or BPL List.
          
Distribute and display the poster jointly produced by SSP and the district                  administration informing people about ration shop rules.

Mahila mandals can visit offices and get the following:

           Lists of households below the poverty line
           Lists of households above the poverty line
           New information and rules that are part of the new Public Distribution System                  policy.

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They can visit shops and check the following:
           Display boards for all the relevant information
           They can also check the complaints book
           They can check if the stock register is being updated regularly.

EVENING ENTERTAINMENT
Women composed songs, wrote witty poems and performed impromptu plays on rationing for an enthusiastic audience at the cultural program that continued until midnight.


INFORMAL SHARING AND DOCUMENTING EXPERIENCES
Everyone used the informal time to catch up on the latest news from the Mahila Mandals. SSP staff used this as an opportunity to document women's accounts of recent efforts of Mahila Mandals.


MEDIA
Local journalists present at the ration melava ensured that the rationing issue and the melava got written about in local newspapers. One journalist was so excited about the Mahiti Melava being held in his street that he placed an advertisement in the newspaper announcing the fact!

Mahiti literally means "information" and the main purpose of the mahiti melava has been to disseminate information. When SSP began organizing these melavas in 1993, the information moved only in one direction - from NGOs and Resource Persons to women's collectives. As SSP and women's collectives became more experienced in hosting and managing these huge information fairs, many more actors have begun to participate: and information seems to be moving in many directions. Women's collectives are not just receiving information they are also educating others. In short, everyone seems to be taking the opportunity to find out what's going on.

It is clear that the mahiti melava or information fair, as a learning tool has come a long way. The Ration Melavas in Osmanabad and Latur represent refined versions of this tool. The "new, improved version" is not just about information dissemination. Instead, the new improved version represents a sophisticated learning tool that highlights the many actors and the multiple activities involved along with the range of strategies employed to create a lasting change.




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