Our news & publications Celebrating IWD 2022: Mercy's story of leadership Celebrating International Women's Day 2022 "There are a lot of achievements in this project. I consider it a great achievement that women who have been subjected to so much oppression have come out today and become members of the Velicham Federation." - Mercy Widowed, divorced, or unmarried women in rural Indian villages face discrimination, isolation, and poverty. Assisi Aid Projects empowers women in Tamil Nadu to overcome these challenges through developing essential life skills, accessing services and building community networks. The Velicham Federation is an organisation comprising women in the project who have fostered a sense of community and campaign for action on issues related to women’s rights. As secretary of the organisation at the state level, Mercy has an essential role fulfilling the Federation’s objectives to empower its members. Since its establishment, members have received training on important issues such as gender equality and government services for widows. This training has developed participants’ skills and enabled them to submit applications for government schemes such as the widow’s pension and establish a people’s bank within the community. The Federation has developed Mercy's leadership skills “I can say that, I was at a level where others didn’t even know who I was and what my name was. But today everyone knows that "Mercy is the secretary of the Velicham Federation, at the state level.” She stated how participating in the project and witnessing others develop and benefit from the experience has been encouraging. Mercy’s leadership extends beyond the Federation to other project activities where she is the coordinator for Assisi Aid Projects' Single Women's Project. Within which, she oversees the activities of 1600 women across five districts of Tamil Nadu. “I am happy to be doing this coordination work for them as a leader.” She has been able to develop confidence and gain important skills such as report development and computer knowledge, which she hopes to progress throughout the remainder of the project. “This project gave me the opportunity and I am thankful.” Hear from other Single Women who have been inspired by Mercy's leadership here and here.