GUIDE was started in 1985 and had grown an organisation which has women associations serving themselves in 180 villages (including 20 coastal villages after Tsunami). It also serves women of hundreds of villages in other districts, but capacity building the NGO staff and the federation leaders who work for them.  

The main reason of existence of GUIDE is to support many thousands of poor women and children  from low income households in rural parts of Tamilnadu, who were landless and had no access to basic amenities. We attempt to increase collective power of these women by promoting women sangams, federations to attain their basic needs from the Government. We had supported them to develop their skills through capacity building, whereby their self power lead into collective power for seeking solutions.

Financial Independence is another major determinant of women empowerment. We strongly believe in their small savings and credit program for leasing out land /organic farming which would aid in fighting against all forms of gender discrimination. The women then moved on to finding alternative income generation and value adding to their products. They also learnt new skills, such as masonry and carpentry. This was part of their effort to assert right to livelihood. At this stage they started their own savings and lending, which has now become over Rs. 3 lakhs common fund of them which they now call as GUIDE rural banking.

Quality education is another basic need towards a major livelihood enhancement. These women are made to understand the need of educating their children and as a result all their children are enrolled in schools as first-generation literates and supported with supplementary education.

Climate Justice is Gender Justice. Emphasizing on this, Women leaders have been made aware and involved in protecting their Common Property Resources like water bodies and local resources by planting seedlings in catchment areas and common lands. As the latest step, the women have taken the lead in organising village level resource protection committees (RPC). These RPC have taken up water conservation activities (land development, planting trees in catchments, water conserving cultivation etc.) and also are leading protest against illegal sand mining, commercial water extraction and industrial water pollution.  

Community level awareness and advocacy on Sexual harassments has, especially among the adolescents has become the need of the hour. Support to women victims and their children and providing legal education to parents and school children became a necessary action due to increase of local companies. They then took up the issues related to young women made pregnant and deserted by boys, dowry harassment and domestic violence. The male members did not appreciate it. They wanted the women’s associations to keep away from these ‘personal matters’. The women fought their way through, and have gained acknowledgement from the local communities, the local police and the district authorities after about 15 years of struggle.

GUIDE has extended its activities among Adhivashi and fishing communities and to many other CBOS through our Tamilnadu Women Network. Women were trained in traditional medicine and health education camps for prevention with gender perspective. On the coast, we have helped fisher women to assert their space in the decision making regarding the relief and rehab activities. Fisher women have helped non fisher women to have their space in rehab. Fisher women have developed a ‘coastal women movement’ to ensure that the coast remains for the coastal communities. They will soon be having official space in the traditional panchayats of the coastal villages.

Immediate response and remedy during the natural disasters (like Tsunami, flood, landslides and drought) owing to the increasing climate crisis has been one of the major activity of GUIDE. Women & children being the major victims of this climate crisis, GUIDE aims at providing immediate support through our women leaders.

Our experience of working with poor communities in the last three decades with the combination of capacity building with sustainable agriculture, sustainable value education, strengthening the feminist voices, strengthening the voice & visibility of the marginalized has promoted more women leaders and socially conscious youth, to contribute to themselves and to their community as a whole.