Adecom Network is an NGO in Pondicherry that promotes Gender Equality (UN Sustainable Development Goal #5) by creating a network of interlocking programs in Tamil Nadu and the Pondicherry state that target women and children experiencing domestic violence, particularly of the Dalit caste.
Over the last 27 years, Adecom has fostered over 60 peer partnerships. On the international and national level, they receive assistance from Karuna Trust, PADEM, and MAITRI Network. At the district and Panchayat (local government) level, they have brought their services in villages by teaming up with Village Community Development Society in Villupuram District, People’s Association for Reconstruction Art and Intellectualism in Thiruvannamalai District, Women Education Social Trust in Karaikal District, Women Education Development Social Service in Thanjavur District, Social Voice Education Development in Cuddalore District, and Dalit Women’s Development Society in Kanchipuram District, Rural Youth Education Trust, and Kootukkural Theatre Movement. In a country where these services and topics are still establishing themselves, most of these groups have no online presence, and yet their efforts are being recognized. Since 2016, the Indian Department of Women and Children Development listed Adecom as a recognized “Service Provider” in Pondicherry for the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence. Adecom actualizes their mission by crafting programs that aim to fulfill many of the objectives of the UN Millennium Development Goals, as detailed in the UN Millennium Project, and articulated as providing “community level interventions.”
Adecom targets their assistance to these oppressed women in the region by focusing their programs on three areas: prevention, management, and recovery. Adecom hosts social outreach workshops and educational campaigns, such as their own version of the UN 16 Days of Activism, and classes that discuss gender norms, different types of abuse, child marriage, and work share within the household. The next project they hope to launch in the near future will be aimed at promoting civic education and participation for women, specifically in regard to voting and understanding their political rights. A common problem in the region is that women’s votes or elected positions are being managed by their husbands, rather than themselves. By hosting community information sessions to encourage women to pursue a more active role in elections and public offices, they are a step closer to promoting more fair and beneficial legislation. For those who are already experiencing violence, Adecom manages shelters and crisis services, of which they hope to be able to find funding to expand into more centers throughout the region. The organization keeps a lawyer on staff who can direct women through their legal rights and options, including reporting and prosecution of abuse, as well as their right to legal protections and marital property. Adecom has therapeutic programs for perpetrators and family reunification, as well as for victim support and empowerment. Their philosophy is that everyone is injured by abuse, including the abuser. This holistic approach is novel, and demands an unrelenting pace for the 100% locally run and staffed operation. Lastly, for those unable or unwilling to do commit to healing and reforming abusive behaviors, Adecom connects these women to training courses, including computer skills and tailoring, that can lead to women’s employment and financial sustainability.
Adecom’s long-term goal is to craft a successful model for affecting grassroots change in Indian culture regarding violence against women and children, lifting women up from the barriers that deny their full dignity and participation in the community. They hope to be an example to encourage other areas in India to adopt similar programs.