Utthan a Sanskrit word means Development in English. Utthan a Gujarat based organization was was founded in 1981, with its initiation in the Bhal region of Dhandhuka taluka, an area of the western state of Gujarat, India. Facing ecological, social, political and economic hostilities such as salinity, drought, health issues, a patriarchal and casteist society, wherein the upper caste and money lenders having a strong hold over the socially vulnerable resulting in violence against them, especially the women. This was triggered by lack of development opportunities from the government leading to poverty, large-scale migration, illiteracy and loss of their assets. Over the years Utthan focuses on the Gender Empowerment, Livelihood Security and Conflict Transformation within the wider framework of promoting gender equality and equity, human rights and improving the quality of life for those on the margins of society. To achieve these goals Utthan has been mainly working with dalits, religious minorities, adivasis and poor.
Over the last three decades, Utthan has brought incredible changes in individual lives which have ultimately cultivated constructive changes in the society at large by using various creative strategies. Many of these strategies were crafted and implemented by the local villagers, women,youth and Utthan team in their respective geographical areas to address their issues. These strategies can definitely become a great learning and implementation model for those who intend to work on development sectors focusing human rights,equality and conflict transformation in rural areas of India.
Scaling up the development work in rural India is a great need today. Those who wish to initiate development work, surly need to study successful working modules implemented by other organization in past. In this context, I feel so lucky to document the rich learnings of Utthan in a ‘Learning Module’ and in Short films forms as my work project under AIF Clinton Fellowship for next 10 Months. The idea of producing ‘Learning Module’ and Short films is to help young entrepreneurs, organization, groups or CBOs which wish to work on the same filed using similar strategies. This module and films will also show case the positive changes Utthan has brought over the years to inspire more and more people to work towards positive change in the society. This makes my work more meaningful and hence I call it as ‘Utthan’ through Utthan