From taking on corrupt officials to striving for greater rights for themselves, a women’s convention in this Uttar Pradesh town unfolded bold narrations of success stories of rural women, who dared to speak out.
The two-day ‘Empowering Rural Women’ programme, that begun here on Thursday, saw over 400 women leaders from 10 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh came together to share their experiences and ideas.
Over 40,000 women from backward communities in this area have formed collectives in 253 gram panchayats (village councils) called Nari Sangh and are working towards claiming their entitlements with the emphasis on right to food and right to work. They are also demanding their rights in the political and social space.
Explaining how these women’s collectives were formed, Badka Devi, who heads the Nyay Nari Sangh of Salahipur village of Pratapgarh district, said: ‘The pradhan (headman) of the village was providing neither job cards nor jobs to the women. So, a group of 200 women from our village formed an organisation to demand our rights. We also warned the pradhan to step down if he failed to deliver.’
Bhanumati of Chaluha Nari Sangh from Mihi-Purva village in Baharich district said: ‘The local public distribution system (PDS) shop owner was a big cheat, but our Nari Sangh (women’s union) has compelled him to mend his ways.’
Talking about the achievement of the collective power of women in her village, Pushpa Devi of Ambedkar Nari Sangh from Babedi area in Ghazipur said: ‘We were not getting timely payments due under the rural employment guarantee scheme. So, the women of Nari Sangh staged a sit-in at the block development office, following which timely payments were ensured.’
There were several other success stories of women from different villages of eastern Uttar Pradesh, who have got out of their shell and dared to raise their voice against male domination and domestic violence.
Pooja, president of block level Naari Manch with 5,000 women members, spoke about how they had succeeded in advocating the rights of women and had raised their voice against corruption with the help of RTI (right to information).