A Catalyst for Change – Lakshyam and Ircon International Ltd’s Rooh Program Uplifts Women in Umri Village, Madhya Pradesh

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Madhya Pradesh, December 2020: The idea of empowered women is as old as that of the Greek period. Yet, today at the epoch of the 21st century, women are amongst the destitute strata of the society. The struggle as ancient as it sounds, with due regard, over the period of time women rights, choices have been embraced but still, stories of atrocities happening with women surface from time to time. The reasons are various ranging from patriarchy, societal norms, culture, political amongst others. 

The quote fits aptly; a strong woman is one with a voice, the one who wants to be heard. The most basic necessity of all, for the human being, wants to be heard, listened to at the end of the day. After centuries of struggle, leading waves of feminism, women at present have right vis-à-vis political, social and cultural, ‘Modern Women’ are financially independent. However, they are still unaware of their right. It is here the enhanced role of NGOs working for securing women comes into being. One such organisation is Lakshyam NGO, which is working for the upliftment of women through its ‘Rooh Program – Awakening Women Soul.’

Lakshyam, in association with IRCON International Ltd. (A Govt. of India Undertaking), ventured in Umri village, Madhya Pradesh. The village is remotest of all villages in India with basic facilities available like electricity and water, kacha roads. When one walks around in Umri, observes a true sight of rural India. The women are mostly daily wage earners or perform household chores, the average women in the area have studied from 5th standard till B.A from nearby public school or colleges respectively.

A firm understanding of the area, the target was to get women financially independent, decision-makers. For women empowered, is a family empowered. Under its Rooh Program, women are provided with basic skill and financial literacy programmes. In the past year, various workshops have been conducted at the centre like financial literacy workshops with a central theme to inculcate an understanding of saving and investment. This contributes to their self-sustainability. Further, the skill training programme women are taught basic cloth bag stitching. Wherein products like bags, mats are recreated with waste katrans. Also, contributing towards the ‘No Plastic’ policy supported by Lakshyam for a better environment. The average woman can earn up to Rs. 3000 – 4000 a month. A ‘Gender Equity’ workshop was also conducted designed to cover a set of themes such asBuilding Cohesiveness amongst Women’, ‘Enhancing solidarity’ and ‘Foster Team Building’.

Activities like manure training have also been conducted to lead women to the path of alternative financial independence. Manure is a useful raw material for rural areas – it reduces soil erosion and runoff in the fields and increases soil carbon which helps the plants grow. Keeping this perspective in mind and understanding the demand for such products in their areas – women were given an extensive manure training wherein a demo of how to create manure was done which was followed by asking women to do the same and guiding them throughout the process.

The training was given on how to create eight types of manures including but not limited to nimastra, jeevamrit, matka khaad and more. This training results in women learning another new skill and a new way of sustaining themselves through the market that’s already created in the areas around them. The women come to the centre and work there which gives them an advantage of working but also can look side by side look towards their house and cater to the needs of the children. In Umri more than 60 women have been empowered.

“The Centre has helped us; all women look at things differently, judging what society has to offer. Today, I wish to teach my daughter to be respected, to raise her voice against any injustice and my son to respect all women,” says Sunita, the Center Coordinator for Lakshyam from Umri, Madhya Pradesh.

India has always been an agrarian society and fact well established more than half of India resides in the rural site. Therefore, the need is to be a catalyst for change, to create every woman a woman with a choice, analytical thinking and henceforth, a chain to success rhythm creating as many as women success stories.