“Kadam badhaa ke chalna hain toh pao pasaare mat baitho…” (If we want to move ahead, let’s not remain idly seated), rings a determined voice of Wasima, from a small hamlet in Bahadurganj block of Bihar. True to her words, rural women from Muslim communities in North East Bihar are bringing change, one step at a time, for justice and equality.
The women’s Federation in Palkot block of Jharkhand helped women to come out of their homes and raise their voices for equal rights. Jharkhand State Livelihoods Promotion Society recognizing the work of the federation members selected their process of organizing poor families of rural areas into robust self-run groups, and selected Palkot as a model block for its convergence programme.
With changing time, the nature of crimes against women has changed. Women no more feel safe in their most personal space these days. But if there are more complex problems, women SHG members have devised more robust mechanisms with their sheer grit to challenge the societal menaces. Jagriti Gram Sangathan a village organization (VO) of Tejaswini Mahila Sangh in Jaina village of Bokaro district in Jharkhand, is one of them. It practices zero tolerance towards any violence against women.
A 10ftx10ft room, with bright pink walls, one of the walls covered with shelves full of sarees and lingerie. This is the new shop that RamiyaBarse owns, this is the kingdom of her dreams. But just a few years ago, all she had was one saree – torn and dirty – as her sole possession. Her husband Dinesh, did not leave any scope for her to take any other belongings.
“Kis kis ko rokoge? Charai to sabhi karte hain!” “Humara dada to chale jate hain Bambai, kaam ke vastey – kaun karega kheti?” “Paani kahan hai ke kheti karoge?” The questions were pertinent; the answers seemed complicated. But with Balbina, even the most complicated issues would find easy solutions. Every effort of her was helping her fellow villagers collectivise for betterment of their lives, and Balbina was setting new standards of living for everyone.
The year 2010 marked the first panchayat elections for Jharkhand. Though villages now had Panchayats, but the pace at which they worked was very slow. Lack of institutional capacity, coupled with insufficient devolution of funds, restricted the effective functioning of the panchayats.
Women in Bandih village, were allowed to defecate only at dawn and after dusk. The nearest bushy area where they could get some respite from the onlookers’ intrusive eyes and pervasive remarks was three kilometers away from their huts.
Three months of back-breaking work under the scorching sun and lashing rains, on a piece of four acres of upland to grow paddy. With that effort, at the end of each monsoon, Basanti’s reward would be roughly 35 quintals of paddy. Her 0.4 acre homestead would help her grow maize, worth Rs. 6,000.