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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-57: WOMEN ARE SECOND TO NONE – IN FACT WE ARE AHEAD OF OTHERS!

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“My name is Macha Andalu and my husband is Rami Reddy. I have three sons and two daughters. I am from the village of Setharampuram, which is 24 KMs away from Motkur mandal.

We are farmers. We own five acres of land and both of us worked in the field. My husband managed the sale of produce and the income.  I didn’t know how much we earned and what we spent. I took money from my husband for household expenditure.

My husband took all the decisions in the family. Many women in my neighbourhood joined self-help groups and I joined a group along with them. A village organisation was formed in the village with the self-help groups as members.  The village organisation conducted awareness and training programmes at the Cluster Livelihoods Resource Centre. Members attended them to learn about women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender discrimination.  The information provided in the training was interesting and for the first time I understood the rights of a woman. Concepts like selfrespect, the right to defend yourself against domestic violence, education of the girl child, etc. fascinated me. I learnt how men dominate and discriminate against women. I was curious to know about the opportunities for women to become self-reliant. I was particularly interested in opportunities for women in the village in social, economic and political spheres.

Till such time as I attended the training programmes, I was of the opinion that selfhelp groups and village organisations are like banks providing money. How wrong I was! They have been promoted to provide opportunities for women to grow socially, politically and economically. I started taking the meetings
seriously and discussed various issues. I also encouraged other women to understand the social relevance of self-help groups and village organisations.

I started to take an interest in what my husband did in the market. I accompanied him and understood how produce can be sold for remunerative prices. I was confident that I could do that. I discussed the matter with my husband and after a great deal of persuasion, he agreed. His main problem was, “Why should you pursue this path when others are silent?”  I had to convince him that someone has to be the first in bringing about change. Though he did not understand it, he agreed because of my resolve, and also because he did not want any unpleasantness in the family. He cautioned me that the children would suffer, but I assured him that I would not forget this responsibility.

So, the next season, I went to the market and sold the produce. My husband was overjoyed as I was able to get a price far beyond his expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it, more so, as other women asked me how it felt and some of them wanted to follow my example. Indeed, the sense of liberation that it
gives is only to be experienced and cannot be explained! The resultant change in my family was visible. I could now lay hands on part of the income and spend it on my children and other family activities. My husband discovered a new helping hand, and now we jointly plan our work. Other members of the self-help group and village organisation look up to me. I have become known. I have realised that there are
many needs of women and the need for social recognition is very important. It has given me a sense of fulfillment and I want this to happen in the life of every member of the village organisation.”

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