International Women's Day: Meet The Women Who've Moved us With Their Zeal to Help People
There are some women who have made their mark by overcoming all the shortcomings.
Sand artist Manas Sahoo makes a sand art on the eve of International Women's Day in Puri beach. (Image: PTI)
International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. There are some women who have made their mark by overcoming all the shortcomings.
Here are some such women whose achievements have set example for many others:
Juggling multiple roles requires enormous courage, resilience and unflinching determination, but this 36-year-old working mother proved to be the champion of the masses. Social worker Mousumi Sharma reflects on her journey and invaluable contribution in setting up India’s largest solar battery station in Assam.
Born and brought up in Dibrugarh, Assam, Mousumi was always determined to work for rural empowerment. Talking about her journey so far, Mousumi says,"It has not been an easy journey. There were lot of potholes on the way. However I have managed to come through and struck chord with the natives. It is just the beginning and there’s lot in store."
The solar battery station of 6KW capacity connects 287 households at a time, and also serves as a community centre for imparting tailoring training and women empowerment activities.
“A central hub has been created in the solar charging station where the panels are installed and electricity is generated. Every household is given a battery which is charged at the station during the day and used at night. Keeping in mind the basic amenities the model has provision for two lights, a fan and a mobile charging slot. A unique portable wiring has been designed in every house that comes handy while migrating from one place to another. As the homes flood during the monsoon, residents need to keep moving to higher land by shifting their homes every year,” Mousumi said.
The project has been made economically sustainable. Mousumi and her team conducted the solar entrepreneurship training program through which they identified four youths and trained them on lines of system maintenance. The villagers deposit Rs. 60 per month per household. The trained local technicians are paid monthly salary from that amount and the balance is saved and used for any maintenance and repair work. A Mobile App has also been created to monitor the system.
Mousumi said,“We have also distributed solar lamps in many other areas of Assam."
Getting past challenges of starting the first English Medium school in the interior areas of Assam, Hiramati has come a long way. Awarded with Dr B R Ambedkar National Philosopher by the Bharath Dalit Sahitya Academy, she started her school with 15 students and four teachers in Bhuvneshwarnagar, a community village of poor fishermen, situated on the borders of India and Bangladesh. Today, the school has 600 students with many first generation learners and 13 teachers.
Hiramati runs four free schools in four other districts of the state. She did not have it easy convincing parents to send their children to school.
Afflicted by polio, Sangeeta Sinha battled her illness with determination and brought succor to villagers in Bihar by preventing girl child marriages.
Recounting her journey,"My objective is to raise awareness about early marriage. I want these girls to receive formal education, so that their potential is explored. It is painful to see 12-year-old girls doing household chores with babies in their arms. What is even more disturbing is their early and repeated motherhood. These girls have been through hell and I don’t want others to experience the same."
Sangeeta has extensively worked in the three districts of Nawada, Gaya and Vaishali, in Bihar where child marriages are rampant. Her various training programs have had a profound impact on victims, parents, panchayats, pramukhs, to the extent, that over 40 child marriages were prevented in a short period of time. “68.9 percent of the marriages in Bihar were girl child marriages, according to a UNICEF report,” says Sangeeta. “Every third or fourth girl was being dragged into marriage. UNICEF approached Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for support. Today, over a lakh people have benefited from our shibirs,” she adds.
Since Sangeeta and her volunteers began work - there are no child marriages in many villages of Bihar.
“It’s extremely encouraging to see that girls aged 12 and 13 years have vowed not to tie the knot till they reach the right marriageable age,” exclaims Sangeeta.
“Finally girls are speaking up for themselves. They have inspired the village panchayats to change their views. Today I am flooded with calls by panchayat leaders to organize training programs across Bihar,” she said.
Narrating her journey, she said,“No doubt, it was challenging to work in the interiors. We encountered naxals. When they saw our work, they would help us – like escorting us home in late hours. However, we had to work in difficult weather conditions and that was more challenging. Summers would be over 50 degrees, while winters would be 0 and one degrees. Yet we beat the odds.”
Even after working roung the clock, Sangeeta says,“I am never tired. At times, I unwind by listening to music. My real joy lies in spreading love and peace. I have made community service my life. It’s my dream to see Bihar free of poverty, conflict and atrocities. I have the conviction of changing this society, from a wheel-chair. Till then, I won’t rest in peace.”
These women have proved that no hurdle can stop you from achieving your goals if you have the will.
(Courtesy: Art of Living)
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