Our Organisation: Sahelis on Saheli

Our Organisation: Sahelis on Saheli

Souvenir 1995

In the process of this venture, collecting advertisements, writing articles and compiling this souvenir, we felt it would be good to share more about Saheli, the organisation. We are over twenty active members, with many more in the wider network. Working as a collective, with open membership and being non-funded is tough and yet most important to us.

We have had intense discussions on non-hierarchical structures and collective functioning, the openness, flexibility and its constraints. However great the crisis may be, we have always resisted any rigid organisational structure. We have had to redefine many of our own notions of democracy, leadership and accountability from a feminist perspective. It has not been easy, but swimming against the tide never was.

While we continue our ongoing commitments in areas of health, violence and personal laws, we often have to suspend work on hand, to respond to events and incidents as they take place. Work also gets prioritised by the interest and input of organisational members, and the workload we can stretch ourselves to handle. Weaving together the different interests, capabilities and time commitment of members is a challenging task needing coordination and sensitivity to members' needs. At this juncture, with no full timers since four years, responding to issues and keeping work going has been tough. New volunteers take time to get active. Often, they have to contend with a slightly chaotic office atmosphere and loosely defined roles.

It is not easy for us to deal with our dissatisfactions about the organisation and its work. Self-criticism ranges from lack of closer personal ties within the group to non-fulfilment of the political objectives of the organisation.

Remaining clear of institutional funds has been a major strength for the organisation, adding to its credibility over the years. Small regular contributions continue to come from supporters who value our work. However, we also keep trying to evolve other alternative ways of raising enough funds to sustain our work.

Saheli continues to extend active solidarity to other struggles and women's groups outside Delhi too. This sometimes puts a strain on our own work, but we try to do both without giving up on either. This comes from our firm belief that societal transformation involves the struggles of various oppressed sections.