In this era of Globalization, where the entire world has become one big interconnected and interdependent “Global Village”, India still struggles to provide its citizens some basic amenities like food, shelter, and livelihood and not to forget a dignified standard of living. Men, women and children starve with empty stomachs and broken shards of hope in their eyes to see a better, secured future.
While men struggle hard enough to find work, children look for work beginning from early childhood, the women are left behind to bear the brunt of the family and tend to the rants of the household. These wives, daughters, mothers, sisters and aunts are cast to a whole lot of pain and trials than we can ever imagine. From being mentally to physically, to emotionally being harassed by the men of their family, these mum lips still strive to provide for their families in whatever way they can.
While their women empowerment initiative in Rajasthan, Humans For Humanity (NGO) discovered many such women in villages such as Bhilwara, Dungarpur, Dausa, Barmer who struggled to earn even 2-3 rupees per day. Living in abject poverty, these women prefer carrying loads of material over their heads to earn amount not even providing for their bare necessities rather than sitting penniless at home.
Humans For Humanity, a non-governmental organisation, strives to provide better living conditions to the underprivileged. With its diverse set of projects ranging from Women Sanitation & Hygiene(WASH), Clean India Campaign, Each One Teach One, Promotion of Indian Culture & Heritage, the NGO seeks to engage its volunteers and associates in activities that fulfil its objective of “Society Before Self”.
The brainchild of Anurag Chauhan, a young pursuant of Bachelors in Social Work, at the mere age of 21, the NGO has managed to receive acknowledgement of many public figures.
Padmashri Dr. Kiran Seth has been an active part of cleanliness drives of the NGO, Designer Manish Malhotra, Theatre veteran Sanjna Kapoor, are also great supporters of the NGO. Singer Udit Narayan and Yoga Guru Ramdev have also appreciated the efforts made. Former Miss India Naina Balsaver is a part of the core team of the NGO.
Bearing harassment and the pain of providing their family with bare minimum amounts of money, these she-roes haven’t given up or quit on life. “I’m a mother of 3 and my husband is an alcohol abuser, if I don’t work, my children will die hungry”, says Sita, a self-taught tailor from Barmer district of Rajasthan, who works day in, day out to tend to the needs of her family and to a husband who is ignorant.
This methodology of self-taught, home based work has rooted itself deeply in the society of Rajasthan and has increasingly spread its wings and engulfed needy and poor women who earlier used to lie forgotten at the whims of their husbands. Stitching, embroidery, weaving, designing and beautician courses have grounded themselves as earning opportunities for these women who wish to support their families. Women in villages of Rajasthan are now much more empowered than before as being skilled has encouraged, empowered and uplifted them to earn and compete with men as active income generators in the household.
Among those who refuse to be pinned down by poverty, destitution and misery is Mamta Agarwal who seeks to encourage women to earn by gifting them the power of skills that will prove as a potent weapon to diffuse missiles of harassment, poverty and abuse. Mamta, born in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan had breathed in poverty and misery for most of her childhood. Growing up in a household with harsh financial conditions, soon Mamta realized that to suffice her needs she would have to earn herself and she started tuitions as she stepped into class 8, earning 50-100 rupees. A quick learner, interested in painting, teaching, art, henna designing and a deep desire to empower fellow women who struggle in abject poverty, Mamta has initiated various workshops to help the poor women to develop skills so as to make them independent of begging for money from their husbands. While sharing her story, she shared the story of a young girl who came to her classes and in confidence, she let out her resentment against one of the male members of her family, who continuously molested her. “Such stories of helplessness, motivate me and instill in me determination to help women weak or poor to the fullest extent”, says Mamta Agarwal.
Workshops ranging from beautician courses, stitching, embroidery, weaving, painting, sculpture and henna art are provided to impoverished women. These workshops are mostly free of cost; some courses require a minimal fee of Rs. 200-250. Currently, 25-30 women are enrolled in the stitching course which is provided totally free of cost by teachers appointed by Mamta. The beautician course that is provided to another lot of 15-20 girls under Mamta’s guidance costs 12-15,000 Rupees in the market, whereas here the girls are taught the same course at a fee of Rs.250.
Duly supported by her husband and her family in her struggle to give women their rightful place in society, Mamta has faced many hardships, whether it be convincing families to send their daughters for these courses or travelling to remote villages and creating awareness about the free courses that she offers. Village Pradhans and Sarpanchs have also been a constant source of confidence and motivation to Mamta as she shoulders the campaign to empower women.
These courses, these skills and the confidence that is developed in these women who have been reduced to being powerless human beings, empower them to be the creators, the nurturers, the strong beings that women are. Encouraging women to fight social evils like harassment, domestic violence, abuse, poverty and helplessness is as important as saving the girl child itself. Women themselves need to become their own freedom fighters and their own heroes as struggles never go in vain.