Chaitanya Mahila Mandal was founded by Ms.Jyoti Pathania with the aim of collective activity for the benefit of society. We strongly believe that by helping one women, in turn she helps another hundred. By increasing this chain we in turn hope to benefit society.
Economic Independence, education and up holding the cultural morals laid by society are the three principles which we follow . Founded in 1992 , officially registered in 1994 , Chaitanya Mahila Mandal initially started with conducting cultural programmes and celebration of all festivals collectively in the area.
Republic Day, Independence Day, on which we felicitate outstanding activities of women and children as well as 10th and 12th Std students have become a regular feature of the area.
Makar Sankranti - distributing of tillgull, Nag panchami- collectively celebrating with traditional dress and dance , Navratri- bhondla and dandia ras are some of the well known programmes of the NGO.
Balsanskar Kendras run by us during school vacations along with swimming classes for women and children are a favourite with the locals.
But as we say, all fun and no work is of no use. Therefore running of the Family Counselling Centre,and a free Legal Aid Cell . A computer literate mother is always an asset in the home. Not only does she add to the family income but also helps the children and so Chaitanya Mahila Mandal started Hi-Vision Computer Academy followed by giving 120 women from the low income strata , free computer training under the NORAD scheme of the Department of Women and Child Welfare, Government of India.
As part of our economic upliftment programme we were running a Zunka Bhaker Kendra providing cheap meals to the people .In the bargain we also ended up providing employment to women through our catering services. Encouraging women to setup there own business , Chaitanya Mahila Mandal helps by conducting Economic Development Programmes. Further, helping the woman get finance from the Credit Society or Co-op Banks is also a part of our activity to be extended with follow up and encouragement.
Though 50% of the population are women, they are denied their rightful place in society. We at Chaitanya , plan to make this different. Encouraging and highlighting the role of a woman in the upliftment of her family, society and the nation are the values we believe and follow.
Mahatma Jyotiba Phule once rightly said,"If you help a man to make progress, it will be to his benefit. But if you help a woman, she in turn will help her family and society."
Working on the Dakshata Samiti of the local police station made us aware of the plight of women, less fortunate than us. So we started KUTUMB SAKHI, a Family Counselling Centre without any external aid and also started giving free legal aid to women in distress. Here we realized the importance of a place of shelter, where any woman could feel safe and recoup herself to take on the world.
This is when we applied to the Department of Woman and Child Welfare, Government of India for grant in aid and permission to start a Short Stay Home - Which was granted in December 2001 and AASHRAY was born in March 2002.
Here the focus is mainly on women and girls belonging to the disadvantaged and under-previledged groups. This home is meant primarily for those women and girls who are either exposed to moral danger or are victims of family discord resulting in the strain of family relationships or emotional disturbances.
The category of women / girls who are benefited are basically those who are being forced into prostitution, those who as a result of family tension or discord are made to leave their homes or are even facing litigation on account of marital disputes, those who have been sexually assaulted, victims of mental maladjustment, emotional disturbances and social ostracism, those who have run away from home due to mental / physical torture and need shelter, psychiatric treatment and counseling. Preferential age group is 15 to 55 years. But children ( boys ) accompanying their mother are permitted to stay only till 7 yrs.
After granting admission, the woman is given the required treatment which includes medical care, psychiatric treatment, case work services, occupational and diversional therapy, social facilities of adjustment, educational, vocational , recreational and cultural activities etc according to individual requirements. Indoor and outdoor games are provided. Generally a prolonged stay is discouraged, but it may extend from one night to three years.
Other than this Chaitanya Mahila Mandal carries out Awareness Camps with the help of the National Commission for Women, National Institute of Public Co operation and Child Development and the Maharashtra State Social Welfare Board in order to bring about legal literacy amongst women. Undoubtedly we have one of the most gender sensitive constitutions in the world. It guarantees not only equality and justice, but also grants certain privileges. "Ignorance of fact may be excused , but ignorance of law is not excused."
A campaign on Crimes Against Women was carried out all over Pune District in co ordination with local NGO's as well as in Pune City where lectures, slide shows, street plays etc were conducted. A one day workshop on Sexual Harrassement of Women was conducted at Pune University in co ordination with the University Study Centre for Women. Interviews of people from all strata of society including the Police Commissioner, the SP, the Collector of the District, Public Prosecuters, common men and women ,some victims; in order to judge the perceptions about the situation on Crimes Against Women and a compiled report was sent to NIPCCD for further action.
Social and General Awareness is also created by conducting Blood Donation Camps, Health Awareness Camps, Eye check up Camps, Tree Plantation Programmes, Healthy Baby Contests etc.
The night life of any redlight area is filled with traumatizing experiences for the children who are born and grow there, Being victims of the flesh trade, the space within the brothel does not belong to the victim of commercial sexual exploitation , the mothers of these children. As the peak business hours begin the children have nowhere to go. Thus Chaitanya Mahila Mandal started the first Night Care Center in the red light area of Pune for the protection of the children of the redlight areas from the traumatic and undesirable nightlife in the brothels. As the established practice in the organized flesh trade in the brothels, the infants of the VOCSET ( victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking ) women, who cannot sleep away from the mothers , are often drugged and put to sleep under the very bed that is used by the customers lest they should disturb the customers by seeking their mothers attention. Others helplessly watch the transaction between the customer and the VOCSET woman , sometimes their own mother. During early business hours the older children are made to run errands for the brothel keepers, the pimps and the customers to bring cigarettes, liquor, cold drinks and condoms. As the customers have a priority claim to sleep with their mothers the children sleep outside. Their agony becomes multiplied in the rainy season . Thus Chaitanya Mahila Mandal decided to use the basic theme of a Creche at night which starts at 6.00 pm and closes at 9.00 am which aims at protecting the children from such traumatic experiences. This night creche provides the much needed safe and warm place to play, in the evening study and sleep on a full stomach. The mothers are encouraged to drop their children at the creche in the early evening. The children are kept clean, given their milk and snacks, study, play, watch good children films, along with educational inputs, given their dinner. Some go home in the late night while the rest sleep ,bathe and have breakfast before going home or to school according to the age.
Now Chaitanya Mahila Mandal has constructed its own building of 9000 sq ft, housing Aashray, the shelter for women and girls in difficult circumstances; after taking a loan of 35 lakhs from Janaseva Sahakari Bank, Bhosari, Pune, along with a Training Center, Swawalamban ; where skills in industrial production like Pvc moulding and industrial stitching are being imparted to the beneficiaries and a Maharani Lakshmibai Mahila Vastigruha where women who have become financially independent , but are still in need of secure shelter can be given protection.
Chaitanya Mahila has also started imparting vocational skill training to victims of commercial sexual exploitation residing in the red light area of Pune to help them to overcome the attached stigma and move on to a better profession like fashion designing and beauty parlour.
Chaitanya Mahila Mandal was founded by Ms.Jyoti Pathania in 1992 , age 50 years, a BSc.(Agri) graduate , having done her LLB from Symbiosis in 2005. A Small Scale Industrialist, the Proprietor of Safe Gear Industries, having won the District Entrepreneur Award in 1993 from the District Industries Center, a former National swimmer , born and brought up in Mumbai , completed her school education from Queen Mary's High School, 12th from Elphinstone College before completing her graduation from the College of Agriculture , Pune , and LLB from Symbiosis , Pune. Presently occupied full time with the honorary work of Chaitanya Mahila Mandal.