ARPAN is a grassroots organisation based in Askot, District Pithoragrh, which lies at the trijunction of Nepal and Tibet with the Kali River separating its Eastern border with Nepal. The founding member, Ms. Renu Thakur, was instrumental in initiating the formation of the organisation. Past experience of working in different fields (teaching in Delhi University), different agencies and regions (Lohaghat, Uttarkashi) helped in forming a very clear vision of what and how to proceed ahead in life. It was pre decided that work area will be Uttarakhand hills.
ARPAN was established as a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, on October 24, 1996. The organisation was set-up with the following objectives:
- To support community institutions in making them self-reliant and empowered
- To revive the diminishing/shrinking space and values within the society
- Socio-economic and socio-political empowerment of women through their capacity building to enable them to fight all forms of discrimination and oppression
- Work in support and alliance with like-minded institutions on national and international issues
A group of young people with similar thinking came together to know the place and people of the chosen area of work, Askot in Pithoragrh district (ancestral home the founder member). After wandering in the remote villages falling within Askot region of Pithoragarh district the group was confronted with some glaring issues of violation of human rights and basic livelihood. The team decided to extend support and solidarity to people’s concern and strategy of work was planned accordingly. The two major issues that were brought to the forefront were the place of woman in society and culturally entrenched caste segregation. This also forms the plinth of the work of ARPAN today which is based on their core strength: rights based access. However, they expressed the desire to work on the theme of Livelihood: income generating ideas to reinforce their work in rights based issues as indeed to now evolve these further in a natural progression to improvement in quality of lives.
The organisation has been working on the issue of violence against women with focus on domestic violence through various action oriented intervention strategies. The main objective of the intervention has been to uphold the dignity of women and enable them to fight collectively against all forms of violence and discrimination. Socio-legal interventions were made through legal aid, and counselling of struggling women. One of the main causes analysed about violence against women is her socio-economic status and position in the patriarchal system. The issue of independent land rights for women is thus a key issue linked with their economic and food sovereignty and to curb violence against women.
ARPAN works with like-minded individuals, local groups, and institutions on:
- Gender equity and socio-economic justice
- Health issues
- Child rights
- Land and forest rights of the most marginalised communities
At the District level ARPAN is a member of the following committees:
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) Committee
- Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Committee
- Child Advisory Board
- Sexual Harassment at Workplace Committee