Eastern Singhbhumi, Jharkhand. In the Naxal affected area of Godabandha there was a time when women would have to think before stepping out of their homes. But after joining the Sakhi Mandal they are not only unafraid but also displaying their strength to society. They are finding new ways to earn a living.
The empowerment of women in the this Naxal affected area.In Bhalika village in the Gudabanda prakhand, 10 women of the Ma Durga Self Help Group are running the Public Distribution shop.
These women formed the group in 2012 and started paying a weekly fee of Rs 10. With assistance from the Rural Development Department and JSLPS these women are being empowered with training. Rebika Mandi, 42, Secretary of the group tells us, "earlier we were dependent on the meagre amount we could earn from collecting wood.
We Could Never Imagine
There was never enough money left over to open an account in a bank. We were not educated. But in the last five or six years since we joined the group, our lives have changed so much that we could never imagine! We no longer spend the day collecting wood from the forest, we have bank accounts and savings.
We can sign our names now and can operate electronic scales." These women are becoming financially empowered In 2017 the Ma Durga Self Help Group took a loan for Rs.1 lakh and started the PDS shop. Earlier this work was undertaken solely by men.
With help from JLSPS, who is trying to ensure the financial empowerment of these women by making them a part to government schemes, these women were trained to undertake this work. Laxmi Samad, President of the group, is educated. She had linked the Adhaar card of card holders online with the portable machine.
Since connectivity is a problem in these remote and hilly areas, she takes the machine to a spot near the river where she has a good connection, and the cardholder can give their thumbprints and get their ration. Laxmi is pleased that this is the first shop in the area which uses the online facility. She goes on to tell us, "We open the shop at 6 every morning and distribute ration till 5 in the evening.
At first, we too thought that running a shop like this was work for men. But now that we do it ourselves, we feel happy. Even though the women are not educated they manage the work very well. Earlier we had no idea about Government schemes, but now during meetings we have come to know all about them."
These women who once collected wood from the forest, now go the bank, sit in Block level meetings.
and are an important part of the government public distribution system.