Araskupa village, in Odisha’s Kalahandi district, with about 40 households is a Gond village. In order to get their spices, wheat and paddy grounded they had to travel a fair distance and spend a large amount. We provided a 10-member SHG with two machines—a 2-in-1 pulveriser and a huller. The former is for grinding wheat, turmeric, millets, cumins, chilies and other spices; the latter is a paddy processing unit. This has benefitted not just Araskupa but six other neighbouring villages. The group was provided with a weighing machine and tools and training for repair and upkeep of the processing units. In the first month they earned about Rs 2000 from the processing units. Money has been kept aside for exigency; they are open to giving loans both to the SHG members and to those outside. Business development trainings are being provided to the women so that they can plan business expansion in the near future.
Fishing is critical to the coastal community. Traditionally, money was concentrated in the hands of the men who spent it either on gambling or alcohol. This led to indebtedness and fishermen had to sell their catch at throwaway prices. Women had no money to spend on health or education of their children. To overcome these challenges, a cooperative led by fisherwomen and supported by Oxfam India was formed in Odisha in 2009. The control of the fish trade was now in the hand of these women who expanded their business from fresh catch to dry fish and fish products such as pickles and papad. In 2013, they registered as Samudram Trading Fisherwomen Collective Producer Company Limited. They went online and expanded their business to Pune and Kolkata. Though unlettered, these women have come a long way from being relegated to the margins to taking control of and turning their occupation into a profitable trade.
In Parsauni village, located in Bihar's Sitamarhi district, women were struggling to maintain a stable livelihood due to limited access to education and employment opportunities. These women belong to landless families; their husbands worked as drivers or seasonal migrant workers. To provide an alternative source of income, we trained 15 women to grow mushrooms. 'Jeevan Jyoti Mushroom Utpadak Samuh’ was formed and mushroom cultivation was promoted as a sustainable source of income. The economic conditions of the women, the potential of mushroom cultivation in the village and its uptake among the women were the key factors taken into account in making a final decision. The women have harvested 200 kg of oyster mushrooms and sell their produce at Rs 100 per kg. The women never miss an opportunity to promote mushrooms at all social platforms—marriage functions, fairs, VDC, panchayat meetings, and even schools. The women now plan to grow different seasonal varieties.
Jani Nayak, Namita Pujari and Sunita Pujari are breaking new grounds. The three women farmers, part of a Women Farmers Producer Group (WFPG), have learnt brinjal grafting, implemented in their field, earned better profits and have reduced their input costs. This is unique for farmers in the tribal pockets like Koraput; in fact the seedlings of the grafted brinjal was available only in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. Though Sundhiput village is a good farming village, it faces challenges during the rainy and summer seasons. Water scarcity during summers has become severe; the cost of irrigation keeps mounting the production costs. Brinjal grafting has not just made brinjal cultivation more profitable, it has addressed the issue of climate change and frequent market price fluctuation. It has ensured higher income to farmers, is better yielding and less prone to diseases. It has helped the Group self-sufficient, increasing its volume of business, and benefitting all members directly or indirectly.
Discrimination based on gender is a reality for all women and girls in India. Regressive social norms lead to violence against women and girls and deny them control over their own lives. As a result, women are deprived of equal opportunities and financial resources.
During the pandemic, women bore the brunt. Unemployment was higher among women, they bore the increased burden of unpaid care work, and there was a rise in the number of domestic violence cases.
They have better access to equal opportunities, they stand up for their rights, and thus create a more equal and just society
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