Nazdeek is a women-led human rights organization advocating for access to justice and legal empowerment in India. Since 2012, they have worked to provide legal support, fight discrimination and corruption, improve service delivery, and strengthen community advocacy among marginalized populations, specifically migrant workers, slum dwellers, Dalit caste, indigenous Adivasi people, and Muslim women in India. Focusing on women in the community, Nazdeek partners with grassroots activists and lawyers to build community-based legal networks to increase accountability in the protection of social and economic rights. In partnership with community paralegals Nazdeek established a community monitoring system which harnesses the power of technology to enable women from marginalized communities to monitor and report instances of violations of their social and economic rights and also allow for collection of data in inaccessible communities like tea plantations. Nazdeek also sources law students to volunteer with rural and locally-based legal clinics.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nazdeek team pivoted, contacting donors to secure funds to deliver emergency relief kits to families on the brink. By May 2020, they had collaborated with coalition partners to deliver life-saving supplies to nearly 20,000 people living in the Indian states of Assam, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu.
Theory of Change
Empowering and equipping women in disadvantaged communities with accessible tools and mechanisms to advocate for their rights helps them break the cycle of marginalization by claiming their social and economic rights.
Nazdeek works with communities to educate them on their legal rights to proper maternal care, access to food, working conditions, and housing. They train community members on their rights and show them how to use the legal system to secure their rights. Through partnership with International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination, community paralegals and Nazdeek developed a coding system that allows paralegals to report cases of rights violations faced by them or their fellow community members by texting relevant codes through SMS. Nazdeek staff then receive the SMS and verify the reports through phone calls or field visits. The data is gathered on an open-source Ushahidi platform, made publicly available and periodically discussed in meetings between paralegals and relevant authorities. This system allows Nazdeek’s trained paralegals to collect data on a large scale and to identify systemic issues. Across Assam and Delhi, Nazdeek has filed strategic complaints at the state and local level to redress health, food, labor, and housing injustices.
Nazdeek’s advocacy has increased the daily wage of 800,000 Assamese tea plantation workers by 77% through their community training and agency-building efforts and helped thousands of tea workers claim their retirement benefits. Their work on raising awareness on human trafficking and modern slavery in the tea trade has placed pressure on local companies and international importers to improve working conditions and reduce exploitation. Nazdeek has also helped over 27,000 mothers and children access food rations, medical care, clean water, sanitation, and plumbing in their communities. In Delhi, they helped build a 24-hour community toilet and they protected a government resettlement colony from unjust eviction.