We seek to improve the lives of less privileged sections: Pankajkumar Bedi

Published: Monday, Aug 1, 2011, 13:01 IST
By Archana Dahiwal | Place: Mundgod | Agency: DNA

The Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), a non-government organisation (NGO), is committed to advocacy on the rights of marginalised populations. This includes the urban and rural poor, HIV positive people, single women, people living with disabilities, the girl child, sex workers and sexual minorities. In Maharashtra, the NGO is present in Pune, Mumbai, Yavatmal, Kolhapur, Solapur, Thane, Nagpur and Ahmednagar. Pankajkumar Bedi, the Maharashtra programme manager of CFAR, has been working in this sector for nearly 10 years. Bedi tells DNA about the functioning of the organisation in the state and its future plans.

What is the objective of CFAR?
CFAR, set up in 1998, is a public interest research and advocacy group committed to enhancing the representation of gender and development issues in mass media. Our key interventions are in the form of strengthening advocacy initiatives on critical issues such as HIV/AIDS, child rights, women’s health and other issues that impact quality of life of the poor and less privileged sections of society. We also train and build capacity of NGOs, development and research organisations in media advocacy and undertake research and develop gender sensitive curriculum for academic and professional training institutions.

Please throw light about the Pune chapter of CFAR.
The Pune chapter of the organisation was launched in 2005. We started with a team of four. But now the unit has grown. The Pune unit works on the issue of HIV/AIDS and concerns of the urban poor population. Under HIV, the focus is to enhance the quality and quantity of coverage on HIV and the communities associated with it. As part of our advocacy efforts, we are focusing on HIV-related stigma and discrimination experienced by the affected and infected communities, their rights, entitlements and social inclusion. Under the concerns of the urban poor, the focus is on strengthening the capacities of the urban poor communities for demanding services and entitlements such as access to quality food stock via the PDS, securing ration cards and even addressing issues of domestic violence. We have set up information centres in some slum areas of Yerawada and Sinhagad Road.

What are the future plans of CFAR?

Scaling up the advocacy initiatives and making all efforts to improve the quality of discourse around the social justice and development issues of the most marginalised thereby seeking and impacting policy level measures.

Please share some of your success stories with us.
There are plenty of success stories. We have been able to raise a strong discourse and have led a movement against stigma and discrimination faced by HIV positive people. Be it the expulsion of students from village schools in Hasegaon and Latur or discrimination with an anganwadi worker in Kolhapur – all these issues were highlighted effectively in the media and a public opinion was sought and a multifaceted response to address such issues was generated. It was due to our efforts that villagers of Kodoli in Kolhapur made a landmark decision where the gram sabha passed a resolution prohibiting discrimination of HIV positive people.

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