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Sthree Shakthi Mahila Prathishtana - A Women's Organization

Service minded women of Mysore have formed an organization - Sthree Shakthi Mahila Prathishtana (SSMP). The organization is dedicated for the upliftment of women irrespective of caste, creed, colour or status and covers all service-motive objectives including literature, music, dance, drama, fine arts, sports and welfare programmes for women and children.

The State-level organization, now spreading its branches across the State, came into being on February 1, 1998 with its inauguration by Sri Shreshanandaji, President of Sri Ramakrishna Ashram of Mysore. Since then, it has grown considerably and has now over 550 life members from all districts of Karnataka, including the chief cities of Mysore and Bangalore. The members include doctors, lawyers, educationists, dancers, musicians, dramatists and housewives.

"Sthree Shakthi" is women power and this has been taken to symbolically represent the Foundation (Prathishtana). "Mahila", meaning women, emphasizes that only women can become members of this Foundation, and contribute their mite for the welfare of the community of women. Though the name "Mahila" suggestes women, it also includes men as a part of the set-up, as they will associate with the Foundation by extending support and help from outside the organization.

In order to specifically serve certain areas and provide platform to encourage and promote different activities, groups have been formed within the Foundation. They are "Sthree Sahithya Shakthi" (literary group), "Sthree Sangeetha Shakthi" (music group), "Sthree Natya Shakthi" (dance group), "Sthree Kala Shakthi" (fine arts group), "Sthree Nataka Shakthi" (drama group), "Sthree Kreeda Shakthi" (sports group) and "Sthree Seva Shakthi" (service group).

By organizing different programmes, the Prathishtana has been creating opportunities for women of all ages to exhibit their hidden talents in their fields of interest. It is also organizing training camps, workshops and competitions. Training courses towards self-employment such as 'fashion designing', 'fabric painting' and 'doll making' are also being regularly organized. It conducts periodical competitions for women in literature, fine arts, arts and sports. Competitions in cooking, gardening, home up-keep, doll exhibition during Dasara festivities are other activities. The Foundation has also started a women counseling centre to help ladies to overcome social and household problems.

An activity which has been well received by the general public is the award of "Sthree Shakthi" titles and prizes to women in different fields, recognizing their services. They include members of the younger generation, who generally fail to get recognized either by the Government or private organizations. "Dasara doll show", a traditional attraction of the Dasara in every house in Mysore, but now losing its place, and "Home garden show" are held during the Dasara and "Sthree Kala Shakthi" awards are made to the best exhibits. Children's fete is conducted in November, while environmental awareness programme is a regular feature. The Foundation also gives away cash prizes and certificates to top scorers in the secondary school examinations in Mysore and Bangalore.

Added to these are regular programmes like humour festival, Purandara-Thyagaraja Aradhana
music festival, State-level awards in literature, music, dance, drama etc, environmental awareness programme and competitions, Kannada Rajyotsava and Children"s Day in November, New year welcome programme during December and other programmes of topical and seasonal significance.

Its long-range programmes include starting of educational institutions to provide donation-fee education for girls and creation of an emergency fund to provide financial assistance to needy women and children. Women of all ages, from India and abroad, are eligible for the Foundation membership, according to its President Mrs. S. Mangala Satyan, who is a well-known novelist.

The Prathishtana Executive Board consists of: Mrs. S.Mangala Satyan (President),
Dr. R.Lalitha (Vice-President), Mrs. Jayasheela Gurumurthy (Secretary-Treasurer), Mrs. S.Anasuya, Shashikala R. Das, Shantha Nagaraj, Pushpa Lokesh, Shashikala Kumar, Dr.A.S.Raghava Kumari (Members), Vijaya Vishnu Bhat and S.V.Sujatha (Branch Presidents).

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