Women of the indigenous Mukkuvar coastal fisher folk community have been for ages denied their rights, and have lived in ignorance of them, due to the isolation of the community from the mainstream and because of its patriarchal nature. Women have been perceived as homemakers, child-bearers, but never as the equal of a man. Hence, women lacked education, were ignorant of the business of the menfolk, and had no participation in public matters.
Transgender people in India were granted legal status in 2014 but many face discrimination and struggle to find work. In the ‘Mukkuvar’ community it is no different. They need social inclusion, in every aspect—education, skills, access to capital, occupations, health care, security and access to Government programmes. OCD does not discriminate, but includes Trans women in all its programs for women.
The issues pertaining to women's rights that OCD seeks to address include: equal decision making rights in family and society, equality in family law; right to work; fair wages or equal pay; access to public property and services; ensuring environmental justice; exercising their vote; holding public office; forming social and occupation related forums and committees, entering into legal contracts; reproductive rights; sexual violence; ownership of property; and education. In the struggle to help the women win their rights, OCD has been supported by several prestigious International Funding Partners, who are:
Awareness on VAW has been provided to the women in the age group 20 – 60 participated in the awareness creation drive which was implemented as meetings in each of the 44 coastal villages in Kanyakumari district. This is viewed as a key milestone as it would translate into prevention of Violence Against Women, support for survivors of violence and prosecution of perpetrators of violence.
Another major milestone is the establishment of community based structures to deal with VAW. Zero Violence Against Women Committees (Z-VAWCs) were formed at village level (44) and at cluster levels (9). These committees are comprised of all the stakeholders and all village level committees are duly represented at cluster level. Their envisioned role is prevention of VAW, aiding prosecution of the perpetrators and facilitating relevant services for the survivors.
An estimated 5000 women from the indigenous Mukkuvar community in Kanyakumari district make a living by vending fish door to door and at markets. Fisherwomen Head load Venders Federation (FHVF) is an association promoted by OCD in 2007 for furthering their rights and to protect them from exploitation by moneylenders, customers, market officials and public transportation staff. It has a membership of 2210 vendors at present.
Projects have been undertaken for ensuring their Social, Economic, Legal, Civic and Political rights.