Organising the Unorganised
24,000 cigar rollers of Vellore have been unionised by WWF resulting in an increase in wages from Rs.6 to Rs.32 per 1000 cigars due to credit provision and awareness brought in by constant training on workers rights, collectivisation and legislations. Women now access raw materials and markets directly. Breaking out of the debt trap, they have been able to redeem their children from a lifetime of bondedness.
Improved Social Integration and Gender Sensitivity
200 devadasis (traditionally women dedicated to temples but currently exploited sexually) of Bellary District in Karnataka (South West India),victimised by patriarchal social traditions, challenged these structures after being provided with alternatives in terms of credit and training by WWF. The WWF provided them the courage, alternate means of livelihood, social re-integration and hope for their girl children. Mass inter - caste weddings are utilised as vehicles of social integration wherein dowryless weddings are organised amongst inter-caste couples and given legitimacy.
Access to Productive Resources: Credit Co-operatives
Over 80,000 poor women from the slums of Chennai have accessed credit through WWF. They are completely relieved from the grips of the moneylenders due to provision of adequate capital inputs for trading, hawking, vending and other kinds of micro-enterprises. Over 800 own account workers like the idli sellers of Chennai could reduce their labour intensive service occupations by accessing rice grinders through the Forum's technology loans reducing their physical burden, household chores and time consumption.
In Narsapur, over 35,000 lace makers were automised through the piece rate system and exploited by middlemen and exporters. WWF provided collective strength, bargaining power through unionisation that has led to an increase in their wages from Rs.3 to Rs.51 per reel of thread (2,500mts.). Women are now independent lace makers selling directly at shandies accruing and retaining their surplus.
Accessing Basic Services
Living conditions are abysmal both in urban slums and villages where women workers in this sector reside. Lack of interest at the micro and macro level for the sector is manifested in their poor access to housing, health, education, sanitation, public distribution/consumer service and so forth.
Women of Maryanathapuram, in Dindigul have accessed Forum's loans to construct low cost sanitation facilities for their own areas and homes.
Women of Chennai slums after stabilising their enterprises, have built better houses, roofing, concrete walls, flooring, drinking water and tanks for their slums and houses.
Constant pressure and street demonstrations by the Forum's women's groups in the slums of Chennai on the ineffective public distribution system, (quality, hoarding and access) and demand for immediate appointment of women in ration shops, led to the Government's decision to appoint 5000 women in the public distribution systems.
Fisherwomen of Adiramapattinam, fought for the desilting of a canal to facilitate them to have better access for boats to the sea. This 40 year old problem could be solved only by the initiative of over 34,000 fisherwomen's petition through WWF to the Prime Minister of India.
In 1988, over 20,000 women from the slums of Chennai led a protest march, presenting a petition on the issues of degrading, abysmal conditions in the slums due to Municipality's negligence, corrupt public distribution system, lack of roads, drains, electricity, drinking water and removal of liquor outlets. Women achieved 70% of their demands due to this demonstration.
In 1997, over 8,000 women from the state of Tamil Nadu went on a protest march to submit a petition to the Governor condemning the hike in the transport cost and the prices of petrol and diesel that severely eroded into their meagre profits. The Government assured the members that the prices would not be hiked for the next five years.