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POPE India Project


Promote the protection of the fundamental rights of Dalit and tribal women and children. And encourage the autonomy and emancipation of women through development of training and professional activities.

Partner: POPE

Duration of the contract: 3 years

Last contract: July 2023 to June 2026

Total budget: 90'761euros

Terre des Hommes France AL68 has been working with the NGO POPE since 2014, on the issue of women's rights in India, in co-financing with the associations A.SI.A and LE SOUFFLE DU SUD, partner associations of POPE for many years .



Tamil Nadu is a state in South India. It has around 72 million inhabitants for just over 130,000 square kilometers. The average density is high, but population growth is lower than the Indian average. Tamil Nadu is wealthier and more urbanized than the national average. The state capital is Chennai (formerly Madras). Tamil Nadu was created according to linguistic criteria in 1956: it roughly corresponds to the regions of India where Tamil is spoken. First called Madras State, it took its current name, meaning “land of the Tamils”, in 1960.


Dalit: “Oppressed, rejected” man, name by which most of the untouchables who reject the latter term designate themselves today. All populations who are outside the caste system, whether they are Hindu or of another religion.

The difficulties

The main problem is the lack of accessibility to education. Illiteracy is very high, so it is very difficult to make Dalits aware of their rights regarding land, access to public or religious places, the possibility of having recourse to justice in the event of violence or abuse by non-Dalits. Lack of education and years of oppression keep Dalits in a process close to slavery.

In addition, Dalits are frequently enslaved by the weight of debts passed down from generation to generation, at rates sufficiently heavy that only the interest is always repaid, never the debt itself. The situation of women is also very difficult, even more difficult than that of men.

They are also dependent on their husbands and have almost no access to education.

Politically, Dalits are entitled to seats in electoral constituencies. This possibility allowed some to be elected mayor of their village, but at the cost of intimidation, threats, attempts at corruption, and even violence.

There are multiple forms of discrimination: ban on access to the temple, ban on movement in certain areas. Even access to tea consumption in village shops is subject to restrictions.

This discrimination even regularly leads to physical violence against property and people.


Women meeting

JOURNEE FEMME 2023 (2)_web.jpg

Meeting with Agnès, Rosario and the women supported by POPE


The adivasis, tribal populations of India, today represent approximately 8% of the Indian population. There are approximately 570 communities officially recognized by the Indian government as Tribes and therefore benefit from the benefits of positive discrimination. These populations are often left behind; being most often illiterate and not knowing their rights, they have no means of defending them.


The Tribes generally live in forest and mountainous regions, they practice gathering and hunting; gradually some evolved towards agriculture by practicing slash-and-burn cultivation.


Each tribe has its own religion, animist type. Each also has a specific language. The adivasis who live in remote areas have retained their customs and therefore their identity.


In the 1960s and 1970s, many tribal people became landless daily wage laborers or coolies. This contact with non-tribal populations introduced alcohol then credit and usury. Exchanging one's harvest for money is generally done to the disadvantage of the farmer and increases his dependence on economic agents. Government policies regarding the exploitation of forest reserves have also affected tribal populations due to the replacement of various species, which allowed the tribes to find their livelihood, by mono plantations.


Finally, the problem of education is crucial: in the tribes, most of the time, priority is not given to school and the illiteracy rate is particularly high, especially since local governments do little real efforts to promote the education of these populations who thus remain a low-cost workforce.



Dalits, Tribes, same fight?

  • Yes when it comes to combating illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty, illness, lack of work...

  • No regarding their social situation. The tribes have not integrated into the caste system, they are separate without any feeling of inferiority. On the contrary, Dalits have been integrated into the system but to become the lower class, those who perform low tasks and are therefore rejected and excluded.

In this sense their fight is the same and the action and commitment of those who work for their development are in all respects similar: putting these people on their feet, responsible for their future, having their place in society and proud of their identity.

Organic agriculture training

Meeting between POPE,  the TDH volunteers and  ASIA

Project objectives

The overall aim of the project is to promote the protection of the fundamental rights of Dalit and tribal women and children. And to encourage women's autonomy and emancipation through the development of training and professional activities. The aim is to increase the autonomy of Dalit and tribal women and children (non-caste communities), helping them to develop through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The project aims to help them find their place in society and live with dignity, by taking part in the global development process. This will enable them to make their voices heard and gain respect in a largely patriarchal society.

1.Gender equality (ODD 5) :


Combating violence against women Supporting access to income-generating activities

2. Fighting climate change (ODD 13) :

  • Raising children's environmental awareness

  • Citizenship education

  • Tree planting

3. Peace, justice and effective institutions (ODD 16) :

  • Training and capacity-building for lawyers

  • Women's access to remedies 

  • Distribution of educational brochures on women's rights


Youth training



Terre des Hommes France AL68

18 rue de la République  68500 Guebwiller |   03 89 62 10 92

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