In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in India, women in the country’s coastal regions fell under the radar of international aid. Their struggles were augmented by the traditional patriarchal structures under which they lived, which made recovery from the natural disaster all the more difficult. In response to this climate of stultification and in cooperation with local organisations, WwB initiated two successful projects: ‘Connecting Women and Children for Hope’ in the fishing villages Venpurusham and Kukilimedu and ‘Take your future into your Hands’, an economic empowerment project for widows and women forty and over in 25 villages in the Tamil Nadu region. Women’s co-ops were built, men rented boats and nets from the women, and the savings were equally distributed amongst the community. Women were motivated to learn how to drive; they were eager to participate in the driving instructions and even established a taxi service. Special health camps were organised, and information campaigns on hygiene, reproductive health, and nutrition were launched. Women and girls learned how to swim to overcome trauma and fear of the water – activities traditionally reserved for men. The film ‘Life Beyond Tsunami’ documents this best practice project in which disaster management was put into women’s hands – the most efficient strategy to reach out to the whole community. To spread the word of the project’s success, WwB held a film screening and discussion in Vienna, Austria on 8 June 2007.
Minister Dr. Erwin Buchinger, Austrian Ministry for Social Affairs, BMASK
Dr. Edit Schlaffer, Founder and Executive Director of Women without Borders
Archana Kapoor, SMART, WwB Local Implementing Partner in India
Dr. Jutta Stefan-Bastl, Austrian Ambassador in Delhi