Breaking the gender glass ceiling is not a new subject; it surfaces again and again. However, it is a newfound passion for me. I have been working in a not-for-profit organisation called PRADAN for the last 22 years. We work in the field of women’s empowerment and livelihoods.
In 2017, Phulkali Mahato, Anjali Murmu, Pramila Singh and many other women experimented with the indigenous paddy Kerala Sundari for the first time. Many of them chose to do so, based on the experiences of a few farmers in nearby villages in the past year. Phulkali’s experience was especially significant. Whereas many women experimented on tiny bits of land (rightly so because of the small size of land holdings), which were also mostly in the uplands, Phulkali grew Kerala Sundari in 0.5 acres of her best lowland.
Based on the engagement with the Santhal women of Poraiyahat block in Jharkhand, this article tries to capture the struggle in the life of Santhal women for being unable to inherit ancestral property and the pain they go through while accessing their right as per the provisions given in Santhal tribe’s customary laws. It explores the possibilities for Santhal women to inherit ancestral property in the provisions given in statutory laws and customary practices.
Uprooting a girl from her familiar surroundings when she gets married, separating her from her family and friends, assuming she will merge seamlessly with her new family is a traditional, social expectation; carrying the ‘amputation’ even further is the custom in Belliguda of renaming a new bride with the name of her parental village; this completes the obliterating of her identity
Whatever progress is made in the livelihoods and economic spheres of life, women in villages will only experience significant empowerment when violence—physical, emotional, psychological and other areas-against them is totally eradicated
Making a tentative beginning at goat-rearing, the women of Unnatipatha Cheli Samiti taste success and cannot be held back. They now monitor the health of the animals and deal with the markets too; thereby increasing their confidence and decreasing their dependency on men.
Expressing her anguish at customs and cultural practices that are blindly followed, a young 14-year-old bride’s gut-wrenching questions remain unanswered: “Why does the world have so many expectations from women? Why do we have to listen to abuses all day, even after killing ourselves to match up?
As important as it is to identify and support viable livelihoods in villages, equally vital it is that issues of gender and sex, gender and patriarchy, and gender and violence are discussed in safe spaces such as SHGs, Clusters and Federations, helping women live lives of equality, dignity and freedom
ONE EVENING, DURGAPRASAD, A CONTRACTOR from Mohgaon, came to visit Kumharra village to discuss matters with the sarpanch of the village. As he entered the village, he heard a voice resounding in the village: “Bhaat baad mein khabo, natak dekhan jabo (Have your food later, come to see the play)”; “Aao aao natak dekho…natak dekho…bin paise ka natak dekho (Come, come to watch the play…watch the play….watch