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Empower

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Empower, established in 1991, is a non-profit organisation working in the Southern Districts of Tamil Nadu, India. The organisation's mission is to "facilitate the community to gain control over their lives by nurturing their innate capacities to make their own choices." The organisation aims to empower marginalised communities such as women, children, and youth of socially and economically disadvantaged communities. It aims to promote women's rights and campaign against violence against women and children; prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS and enhance reproductive rights and impart health education. Empower also aims to impart consumer awareness education, to work on civic and environmental issues affecting the people through research and social action, and promote science and technology to improve the quality of life.
Communication Strategies: 

Empower is engaged in a wide range of programmes and activities to achieve these goals.

  • STI/HIV/AIDS Intervention among the Urban Backward Settlements - aimed to minimise the spread of STIs and /HIV/AIDS among the slum population of Tuticorin through peer development. Using behaviour change communication (BCC) strategies, peer education, quality care, condom promotion, and advocacy, the project aimed to increase knowledge; promote safe sex practices and increase condom usage; and sensitise the community on issues related to HIV/AIDS to reduce stigma and discrimination.
  • Short Stay Home for Women in Distress - working in collaboration with the District Administration and Police Department of the Southern Districts of Tuticorin, other voluntary organisations, and women's groups, the programme developed activities for women and children who were abused. This included providing temporary shelter; offering counselling and training in life skills, and providing phone-line counselling for women in distress.
  • Reproductive and Child Health - aimed to promote reproductive and child health among the slum population of Threspuram fishing community through couple birth control counselling, promoting immunisation of children, and promoting behaviour change to encourage people to seek medical treatment for STIs. According to the Empower website, this project enabled community participation in the delivery of certain basic services. Sensitisation training of community leaders resulted in them raising their voice against bribery, discrimination and indifference of the health staff.
  • School AIDS Education Programme - using teachers as trainers/counsellors, peer education, Life Skills education and a classroom question box, the programme was developed to minimise the risk of HIV/AIDS and to provide life skills for students in Tamil Nadu. Teachers and peer educators are expected to conduct the sessions in the classroom environment following the training manual 'Learning for Life' .The programme aimed to increase the level of involvement and participation of officials at all levels for School AIDS Education Program; sensitise parents through Parent Teachers' Association; and promote and sustain the peer education process among 9th and 11th standard students for behaviour change communication.
  • Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) on Integrated Sanitation Programme - IEC activities in the Municipalities of Tuticorin and Kovilpatti to promote the utility of the Integrated Sanitation Complex in each of them. The main intended audience group is the women and beneficiaries living around the sanitary complex. The key messages of the IEC materials were hygiene, water borne diseases, advantages of using the toilets, etc.
  • Strengthening Breastfeeding at the Grassroots Level in Tuticorin - Empower, with small support from the Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India conducted campaigns among child care workers and health care providers. They also published a poster and a booklet entitled 'Breastfeeding is Best.'
  • Street Play Programme - Empower conducts sensitisation and awareness building through street theatre. On average, about 4 to 6 programmes are conducted every month on STD/HIV/AIDS prevention, women's rights, child rights, environmental awareness, and issues concerning livelihoods.
Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Women, Health, Rights, Youth, Children.

Partner Text: 

Central Social Welfare Board, Department Women and Child Development, Government of India; Tamilnadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), Chennai; AIDS Prevention and Control Project (APAC- VHS), Chennai; Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), Madurai Branch; Tamilnadu Urban Development Project -II (TNUDP), Chennai; National Child Labour Project (NCLP), Tuticorin District Administration.

Contact Information: 
Source: 

Empower website, May 11 2006 and October 21 2010.

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