Recent economic changes have had a profoundly marginalizing effect on the position of women in Ladakh. As men and young people flock to the city in search of jobs and schooling, women are left on their own to tend their farms. As a result their decision-making power has decreased while their workload has increased. The Women’s Alliance is a way to combine their decision making power, and thus, on the scale of Ladakh as a whole, to return their influence to the level it once was within their own villages.
The monthly Meeting of Women’s Alliance working committee members are held the 10th of every month, in addition to holding different meetings with the village women who come to visit at the centre. The objectives of these meetings are to identify current issues that need to be addressed, and how best to dedicate their time and resources to improving the situation, which often involves women from the Leh travelling to remoter areas to disseminate information and ideas. To take a current instance, the amount of money and presents given as wedding gifts, part of the traditional custom of a Ladakhi wedding, had begun to spiral out of control, to the extent that poorer family relatives felt compelled to give more than they could afford.while the bride and groom luxuriated. So WAL have issued guidelines reducing the amount that should be given at wedding ceremonies, returning them to their original form in which a smaller gift was bestowed.
Other issues have included influencing a reduction in the amount of plastic bags used in Leh, countering the spread of STDs by providing sexual health education in remoter villages, With Dr. T Lhadol, a Ladakhi gynaecologist who provided advice on women’s issues and did check-ups, a team of Amales travelled to Zanskar to explain other modern health hazards, such as inhaling the fumes of burning plastic, the danger of storing grain in old pesticide bags, the unhealthy effects of consuming products with monosodium glutamate, or using PVC plastic for making butter tea. The team also encouraged the use of greenhouses to cultivate fresh vegetables in winter to counteract the lack of vitamins available in the non-growing season diet.