Women’s Day 2017: Women are our biggest change agents, says Manas Satpathy

Pradan, an NGO working in the villages of seven states in India, is repositioning women at the centre of mobilization. And these drivers of change are transforming lives in their villages, says Prafull J Sharma

Quietly working in seven states of India, empowering women and changing lives of hundreds of villages,is a 33-year-old NGO, Pradan (Professional Assistance for Development Action). Well organized and well-structured, Pradan has reached out to over 2.4 million people and 4,82,157 households directly. Its areas of focus are the economically weakest sections in rural and tribal areas of Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh, specially the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

Though it works with both men and women, and children, its contribution towards changing the lives of women and making them confident bread earners for the family through the self-help groups is the highlight of its work. It has formed 37,617 self-help groups so far and its women collectives not only armour the women with confidence but also give them the courage to question and challenge the village sarpanch and decision-makers.

Take the case of polio-affected Geeta Markam of Mohgaon village in Balaghat district, Madhya Pradesh, for example. When Pradan entered her village, she had given up her studies after ninth standard despite scoring a first division, owing to financial challenges and poor health. However, she graduated from being a khatalekhak (accountant) for a Self Help Group (SHG), to forming two SHGs in her village. So much so that after initial hesitation, she mustered the courage to question and challenge the sarpanch of her village, a relative, on the delay in starting anUpswasthya Kendra (sub health centre) in the village. When challenged, women of Mohgain contributed Rs 20 each and hired a contractor for the work themselves. When they received threats, the matter was escalated to the CHMO (chief medical health officer) at the District level. He gave the women a green signal and the health centre soon came up in her village. Geeta today is a trainer and senior influencer in the NGO’s works and a catalyst in the improvement of life of both, men and women, in her village.

Source: The Free Press Journal