Coaching for Organizational Re-Orientation
The Kutch district in western India is located in a semi-arid region where people depend mostly on crafts, dryland agriculture and nomadic animal husbandry. Located in the capital Bhuj, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), an NGO founded in 1989, has organized poor rural women to address gender inequities. They foster the leadership of women to transform their condition and impact their economic, political, social and cultural status.
By organizing, mobilizing and educating for consciousness raising, KMVS has grown from a single collective of rural women, to become a network of seven grass-root women’s organizations (sanghathans) with an active membership of more than 20,000 women leaders, organizers and practitioners.
Pastoralists, farmers, artisans, fishers, wage-workers, musicians, elected representatives, birth attendants and single self-employed women have come together to organize collectives that impact the transformative potential of rural women in the region.
However, a recent in-depth analysis revealed that the organization has slowly become more project-oriented. The movement-based connection with women and their issues was missing.
One emerging hypothesis was that the pressure of finding funds for development work was pushing the organization into a very masculine stance. Project planning, implementation, reporting to fulfill funders’ requirements were taking precedence. The inner connection to the feminine, both in individuals and in the organizational presence was getting lost.
KMVS began a reorientation of its processes, programs and activities. The purpose was to renew focus on women’s leadership and empowerment. To do this, the leadership recognized that first, they needed to transform themselves.
So 15 of the top leaders of KMVS, both men and women, attended “Tattva Shakti Dhara” (Flow of the Power of Essence). The participants learned to teach coaching skills to grassroots women leaders of the community. The main foundation of the process was the Kutchi (Sufi) culture’s focus on love, peace and harmony both within self and with others. The program helps leaders find the Shakti (power) within, to revitalize the organization and to raise the power of community leaders.
On a personal note, I was wondering where the passion for the work of KMVS was lost. The image that came to me was to get the river flowing again. River? I asked myself, where is the river in Kutch? Meditating deeper, I got the word Saraswati, the mythical river that has gone underground. I turned to Google out of curiosity and to my astonishment found that the river Saraswati is believed to flow underground through the Rann of Kutch before joining the Arabian Sea. This image was a signal for resurfacing the strength of KMVS, to tackle the myriad issues faced by women of Kutch today. The flow of the river gave me a sense of alignment within and became a foundation of the work.
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