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Human rights

Our Community, Our Rights in 2014

“We are a group of like-minded women starting our journey towards a better future”

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In 2014, Women’s Health West worked with women from India on the Our Community Our Rights project. This project aims to build women’s confidence to assert their rights and advocate for change, and to increase women’s participation in civil society.

Since February 2014, WHW has been working closely with a group of 14 Indian women who are passionate about promoting respect for human rights. The women were united by a desire to turn an abstract desire for a better, fairer world into practical skills and strategies to start making this happen.

WHW facilitated a series of practical workshops designed around the concerns and passions of the participating women. The workshop topics included human rights law in Victoria, racism and discrimination, employment rights, responding to and preventing family violence, strategies for advocacy and collective organising, and assertive communication skills.

At the conclusion of the workshops, women described feeling more confident, resourceful, resilient, purposeful, practical and better able to make decisions. They shared the following reflections:

I have always wanted to be a part of ‘change’ that positively affects the lives of vulnerable women and children. This project has given me the opportunity of: time, resources and fellowship of like-minded women to make it a reality. I am looking forward to being a part of this community group for a long time and effecting positive change in people’s lives. This workshop has also given me the opportunity ‘to be a part of’ [something] and ‘to be included’.

Consciously knowing about basic human rights has shifted my thinking and increased my love and respect for everyone. I learned the importance of gender equality in relation to family violence. This has given me confidence to talk about and promote gender equality. I have become more wise and conscious that I CAN make a difference to humanity for happiness.

After the workshops, WHW provided practical support to participants so they could implement the skills they had developed by planning and delivering advocacy projects of their own. The groups produced a funding submission, managed a budget, conducted consultations and research, and delivered three projects:

  1. Joining Hands: Working More Effectively with Indian Women and Families to Effect Change
    A resource for police and support agencies which aims to build their capacity to work sensitively and communicate effectively with women from the Indian community
  2. International Students — Know Your Rights
    A short film to raise awareness amongst international students of their rights and the help available
  3. Violence is Unacceptable in any Culture: The Power of Change is in our Hands
    A pamphlet for women from the subcontinent applying for intervention orders which aims to prepare them for the process and link them with culturally specific support

Read about our work with South Sudanese women and women from Burma.

For more information, contact the Health Promotion Team on 9689 9588 or info@whwest.org.au