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‘Empowering rural women’ in India

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Summary of story from Sify News, March 25, 2011

A two-day women’s convention – ‘Empowering Rural Women’ – in Uttar Pradesh in India, which started yesterday, has given over 400 women leaders from 10 districts the chance to share their experiences and ideas.

Women told bold stories of success, from striving for greater rights to taking on corrupt officials.

Over 40,000 women from rural communities in this area have formed collectives in village councils called Nari Sangh and are working towards claiming their rights with the emphasis on right to food and right to work.

They are also demanding their rights in the political and social space.

Explaining how these women’s collectives were formed, Badka Devi, who heads the Nyay Nari Sangh of Salahipur village of Pratapgarh district, said:

‘The pradhan (headman) of the village was providing neither job cards nor jobs to the women. So, a group of 200 women from our village formed an organisation to demand our rights. We also warned the pradhan to step down if he failed to deliver.’

Bhanumati of Chaluha Nari Sangh from Mihi-Purva village in Baharich district said: ‘The local public distribution system shop owner was a big cheat, but our Nari Sangh (women’s union) has compelled him to mend his ways.’

Talking about the achievement of the collective power of women in her village, Pushpa Devi of Ambedkar Nari Sangh from Babedi area in Ghazipur said:

‘We were not getting timely payments due under the rural employment guarantee scheme. So, the women of Nari Sangh staged a sit-in at the block development office, following which timely payments were ensured.’

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