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‘Kitty parties’ a way to empower village women

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New Delhi: The women of rural areas are redefining the idea of ‘kitty parties’ as a tool for their empowerment in water-starved Nashik district of Maharashtra.

While the concept of ‘kitty parties’ is widely known in urban areas among rich women, these village women are using it as a collective power to reach out places.

In village after village in Nashik, the “kitty parties” are held, ironically, at Hindu temples, which some of these ladies were barred from entering until some years back.

Together the women of Khaprale, Chandrapur and Jamgaon villages of Nashik district have decided to fight the social evils and problems.

The changes were in part initiated by an NGO in collaboration with Hindustan Coco Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, which has a major plant in the town of Nashik.

The women collectives today are like mini banks, encouraging women to save and lending out cash to those in need.

They have been working for six months bringing the village women together for their own good, said the members of NGO.

Over time, there has been a mini-revolution in many villages. But the effort paid off.

“Now, if we face a problem, it is our responsibility to find a solution. No one can help you all the time. We have started to think on our own and help ourselves and others solve their problems,” said 45 years old Sindhutai Sadfule with the confidence of a woman who has finally found her voice.

These women, members of Self Help Groups (SHG), deposit Rs.100 a month in a common bank account and maintain the details in a register. Money is lent out to villagers in need, not just to women, at a certain rate of interest.

“We have six to seven groups and each has 10-12 women. Once a request for loan comes up, we sit and decide whether or not the money is to be lent to a person,” explained Sunita Prakash, 27.

In case more than one person seeks a loan, “the money is lent keeping the priority and the importance of the work in mind. We give preference to the one who needs it the most”, added 28-year-old Meera Tadpe.

“We arrange everything on our own. We bring food and tea and lemon juice from our homes. At times we buy sweets too, taking out some money from our collective account,” said Vijaya Sabale, explaining the concept of “kitty parties”.

Sabale also expressed her gratefulness towards the village women who financially helped her in her son’s marriage.

“I had borrowed Rs.10,000 from the group and it helped us a lot in meeting the wedding expenditure,” she said. “I returned the loan in 10 months.”(IANS)

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Trump Can’t Deny Birth Control Coverage: U.S. Court

The case became more complicated after the Trump administration last month issued new birth control coverage rules that are set to supersede those at issue in the lawsuit before the 9th Circuit.

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birth control, contraceptive
A one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills is displayed in Sacramento, Calif. VOA

A divided U.S. appeals court Thursday blocked rules by the Trump administration that allowed more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control.

The ruling, however, may be short lived because the administration has adopted new rules on contraceptive coverage that are set to take effect next month and will likely prompt renewed legal challenges.

Thursday’s ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concerned changes to birth control coverage requirements under President Barack Obama’s health care law that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued in October 2017.

States were likely to succeed on their claim that those changes were made without required notice and public comment, the appeals court panel said in a 2-1 decision.

USA, birth control
A man stands outside the main door of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals building in San Francisco. VOA

The majority upheld a preliminary injunction against the rules issued by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam last year. It, however, limited the scope of the injunction, applying it only to the five states in the lawsuit and not the entire country.

Another federal judge also blocked the rules, and her nationwide injunction remains in place.

An email to the Justice Department seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Obama’s health care law required most companies to cover birth control at no additional cost, though it included exemptions for religious organizations. The new policy allowed more categories of employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing free contraception to women by claiming religious objections. It also allowed any company that is not publicly traded to deny coverage on moral grounds.

The Department of Justice said in court documents that the rules were about protecting a small group of “sincere religious and moral objectors” from having to violate their beliefs. The changes were favored by social conservatives who are staunch supporters of President Donald Trump.

Reproductive Rights, abortion, women, birth control
A community health worker holds up contraceptives during a lecture on family planning at a reproductive health clinic run by an NGO in Tondo city, metro Manila. VOA

California filed a lawsuit to block the changes that was joined by Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia.

“Today’s decision is an important step to protect a woman’s right to access cost-free birth control and make independent decisions about her own reproductive health care,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

‘Economic harm’

The states argued that the changes could result in millions of women losing free birth control services, forcing them to seek contraceptive care through state-run programs or programs that the states had to reimburse.

The states show with “reasonable probability” that the new rules will lead women to lose employer-sponsored contraceptive coverage, “which will then result in economic harm to the states,” 9th Circuit Judge J. Clifford Wallace, a nominee of Republican President Richard Nixon, wrote for the majority.

Reproductive Rights, abortion, women, birth control
Newer Contraception Tries to Engage Men. VOA

In a dissent, 9th Circuit Judge Andrew Kleinfeld said the economic harm to the states was “self-inflicted” because they chose to provide contraceptive coverage to women. The states, therefore, did not have the authority to bring the lawsuit, said Kleinfeld, a nominee of Republican President George H.W. Bush.

Also Read: To Diversify The Industry, Apple Pledges To Train More Women

The case became more complicated after the Trump administration last month issued new birth control coverage rules that are set to supersede those at issue in the lawsuit before the 9th Circuit. Under the new rules, large companies whose stock is sold to investors won’t be able to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage.

Wallace said the new rules did not make the case before the 9th Circuit moot because they are not set to take effect until January. (VOA)