Deccan Development Society (DDS) works on a variety of areas focussing on the empowerment of dalit women. It continuously strives to influence policy on various aspects such as bio-diversity, dryland farming and gender justice through networking with organisations with similar objectives.
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Food Sovereignty forms an integral part of the core mission of DDS and has been the earliest of DDS initiatives. Moving ahead of Food Security, these initiatives were aimed at attaining not only Food Sovereignty but also Nutritional Sovereignty through biodiverse cropping of millets, pulses, oilseeds etc in an ecological manner. Currently, DDS is actively engaged with 30 village sanghams for farm households to achieve complete Food & Nutrition sovereignty.
Our state policies, mostly influenced by centralization, neglect towards local food and crop cultures, have inflicted severe damage on the biodiverse millets vital to dryland farming. This distressing trend has led to the erosion of livelihoods, soil health, public nutrition, and ecological balance. In response, DDS has been working to address these challenges faced by dryland peasant farming and promote sustainable agricultural practices.
DDS’s relentless pursuit of gender justice challenges the status quo, offering marginalized women a pathway to empowerment, dignity, and equality. Through transformative efforts, we have reshaped communities and fostered a society where every woman’s voice is heard and valued.
Education holds immense importance for self-empowerment, especially in rural areas where marginalized communities face significant challenges. DDS recognizes this and prioritizes improving education opportunities for both children and adults, and using new innovative pedagogies, emphasizing its transformative role.
DDS’s commitment to natural resource management goes hand in hand with our dedication to sustainability and acknowledging the invaluable role of women. We empower communities to actively participate in preserving and restoring their environments, paving the way for a resilient and ecologically conscious future.
Biodiversity has been a consistent central theme in our activities since it is a hallmark of gendered ecological thinking and indigenous peasant farming systems that guide our organization. At a time when development for dryland farmers only meant groundwater extraction and shifting to mono-cropping of commercial crops, DDS was able to recognize the effects these shifts had on ecology and gender relations. This understanding guided DDS to design integrative programs that considered social, economic, and environmental regeneration.
Recognising the significance of engaging with markets and consumer groups, DDS goes beyond merely participating in mainstream markets; and instead strives to create its own market spaces where Sangham women assert their presence and influence. To help educate and empower consumers about the benefits of healthy and sustainable choices, DDS also actively works towards creating awareness and fostering consumer engagement through various initiatives
DDS has been dedicated to democratizing healthcare and prioritizing local healing traditions as part of its mission. The society has been involved in extension documentation of indigenous healthcare knowledge with locally available plants and trees, and has programs in practice for community health workers.
DDS recognizes the necessity of democratising media spaces and has been at the forefront of creating platforms for self-representation and amplifying the voices of the rural poor. Doing so has paved the way towards a radical shift in perspective, allowing marginalised communities to reclaim control over their narratives and challenge the dominant narratives shaped by commercial and political interests.
DDS has pioneered and also participated in several networks over the past 3 decades facilitating an exchange of knowledge and a greater platform for small farmers at national and international arenas with the power of collectivization.