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Nirantar, in a span of more than 20 years, has initiated many interventions - some of which continue till date. While many of our initiatives have been completed, their significance still remains, both to Nirantar and to others involved in these interventions. Here we share some our history, achievements, and past interventions:

• Nirantar conducted two SHG related studies, one quantitative and one qualitative. The data that emerged provided striking evidence about the denial of educational opportunities for members of SHGs, as well as its implications, such as those related to access to leadership, dependence on sponsoring organisations as well as the ability to undertake collective action for justice. The findings of the studies were shared extensively by Nirantar and had a significant impact on the discourse on SHGs, challenging the assumption that SHGs were necessarily and automatically empowering for women.

• A small ethnographic study was conducted with the aim of understanding how literacy and numeracy was located in every practice, and the existing traditional knowledge as it relates to literacy and numeracy. Nirantar coordinated and implemented a South Asia-level training and research project in collaboration with Uppingham Seminars (UK) and the Asia Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE). The project trained practitioners on using ethnographic approaches to research community-level literacy and numeracy practices and then explored ways in which the research findings could feed into developing locally contextualised literacy and numeracy material.

• More recently, we have developed monitoring and evaluation tools to strengthen literacy work for partner organisations - Literacy Baseline and Endline. This literacy baseline captures language and numeracy skills, use of these skills in day-to-day life and empowerment aspects of every learner. Developing this baseline involved many rounds of working and reworking the questions so that skills do not remain unquantifiable. The formats, thus developed, were pilot-tested for one-and-a-half years with women learners from different regions. Baselines and Endlines are important for organisations to gauge the extent and manner in which learning has progressed, and adjust inputs accordingly.

• In 2010, Nirantar was proactive in initiating We Lit, a national network on women’s literacy, to create a strong civil society voice to impact government programmes. We Lit has 23 members at present, and is currently assessing implementation of the Sakshar Bharat programme.

• We were involved in writing the Chapters on Education for the parallel reports prepared by civil society organisations for the UN CEDAW and ESCR committees. As active partners in advocacy efforts in the country, we were involved in taking forward the Concluding Observations of CEDAW and UNESCR.

• The advocacy that Nirantar has been doing with the government also had an international dimension, when Nirantar was invited by the National Literacy Mission Authority (NLMA) to strengthen Sakshar Bharat, in the light of two international frameworks for adult education, namely, the Belem Framework for Action and LIFE (Literacy Initiative for Empowerment). The South Asia Women’s Watch (SAWW) and National Alliance of Women (NAWO) invited Nirantar to be part of the working group for the Beijing +15. Nirantar prepared a write up on Gender and Education that was included in the report. One of Nirantar’s member was also elected to the Board of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE).

• One of the international advocacy processes was related to CONFINTEA VI, the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education Belém do Pará in Brazil in December 2009. The conference was attended by representatives of 156 Member States of UNESCO, representatives of civil society organisations etc. to take stock of the progress made in adult learning and education since CONFINTEA V. Nirantar participated actively in both the conference and in several pre-conference activities. As a member of ASPBAE, ICAE and GEO, Nirantar contributed to the development of the civil society advocacy agenda prior to the conference and was also actively involved in advocacy processes at Belem itself. At CONFINTEA Nirantar played a proactive role in both the women’s caucus and the civil society caucus. Nirantar focused on advocating the importance of literacy as a part of the lifelong learning agenda.

• Nirantar developed a curriculum for Janishala, the Sahjani Shiksha Kendra’s residential educational centre for Dalit and Adivasi young women.

• Nirantar initiated Sahjani Shiksha Kendra (SSK) in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) in 2002. Sahjani in the local language means ‘one who supports women’. This programme broadly aims at empowering women and adolescent girls through literacy and education, by linking their lived realities to its educational initiatives. This initiative now operates and is growing as an independent organisation.

• We have also been involved in developing locally contextualised material for various organisations, informed by small research studies and field visits.