Astitva Approaches: What makes Astitva’s work effective and sustained


1. The community based approach is crucial to Astitva’s way of working. Not only is Astitva’s work focused on a certain geographical community, but the Astitva team lives in the same community and all our work is based on needs identified by community women. The majority of our staff are low and middle income women from the community and they play a decisive role in the organization. Genuine relationships burgeon over time with the community women, youth, their families and employers thereby giving direction and boosting the work that we do.


2. Integrated approach to women’s empowerment. We realise that women are home-makers, members and representatives of their families and communities and workers who juggle different responsibilities and identities. To bring sustained change the women and Astitva must work at these different levels. For example we may provide women with training and work opportunities – but if their families do not support them women often leave after joining. Also if women are to deliver food in the evenings we have to ensure that the community is safe. This could be in terms of street lighting, providing self defence training, taking action on incidences of sexual harassment etc. 


3. Challenging not only gender but class issues is important to Astitva because we know that many girls and women are limited in the opportunities and decisions by accepted class behaviours. Many low income women are hesitant to do marketing, wear certain clothes etc. Many are also very afraid to ask for rights and services from their employers, police, and government officials because of class. Through all its programmes Astitva challenges class hierarchies. We organise meetings and events whereby people from different backgrounds come and meet, discuss and eat together.


4. Involvement and cooperation of men and particularly young men and boys from the community in bringing about gender equality and women’s economic empowerment is another important approach adopted by Astitva. Sustained gender equality and decrease of domestic violence happens when men and women both start challenging gender roles and realize the benefits of shared work, respect, responsibility and decision making.