Mahila Dakia - a local newsletter

Nirantar has both trained and worked with other organisations and programmes to develop a range of educational material in participation with teachers and learners. These publications included newsletters and broadsheets. Mahila Dakiya was one such initiative.

Nirantar, in collaboration with Mahila Samakhya, Banda District, Uttar Pradesh conceptualised and initiated the production of Mahila Dakiya, a local newsletter produced by rural women.

At the time when Mahila Dakiya was initiated, in the early nineties, the literacy campaigns were at their peak but the large numbers of men and women entering the literate world had hardly any material to read. What little was available was largely didactic and message-oriented. Moreover, most material was centrally produced with little involvement of local communities and newly literate readers. Nirantar felt that to produce material which was responsive to women’s needs, they should be involved in creating the publications. Moreover, we believed that the involvement of newly literate women in such a process would be an excellent way of sustaining their literacy skills. Thus between 1993 and 1997 Nirantar conducted training workshops and follow-up activities to facilitate the transfer of writing, editing and design skills to a mixed group of newly literate and literate women.

'Mein aur meri cycle' — This item written as a poem describes women’s experiences of learning how to ride a bicycle. Excerpted from Mahila Dakiya Issue no. 3, 1993.

Each issue of Mahila Dakiya included reports and comments on issues that the programme had dealt with. The newsletter also included lighter, humorous items such as jokes, articles on other cultures, local news and information on government schemes, while maintaining its focus on women’s issues. Producing Mahila Dakiya regularly was a continuous learning process for the team of women. The newsletter gave the team members recognition and respect not only from the community, but also from the administration for providing information.

Our involvement in Mahila Dakiya enabled Nirantar to develop an experience base in participatory material creation. Mahila Dakiya was discontinued in 1999. In 2002, Nirantar took the ideas integral to Mahila Dakiya forward and initiated the production of a local newspaper, Khabar Lahariya.