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:
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.