An example of rural success is the story of Humsana. Humsana is a Dalit woman from Sriramnagar, Andhra Pradesh, who makes her living by plucking tamarind leaves from the forest. She joined the Dalit Sthree Sakthi (DSS), as a volunteer, in order to raise awareness of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), 2005, that guarantees 100 days of paid employment to rural households per year. Dalit women had been unaware of this Act due to their exclusion from society, as well as their lack of educational opportunities. Humsana has completed training and awareness raising workshops on gender, and now she raises awareness of the act and represents almost 150 families at the Mandal level. Her leadership skills have also enabled her to secure pensions for elderly women in her village.
The programme Humsana volunteered for was a two-year UN Women programme, implemented with the help of several national and local NGOs. This programme was also instrumental in unionising female workers, and in facilitating financial independence in Dalit women, through the creation of over 3,500 under the names of Dalit women.
Humsana’s story ou...
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...lf- Employment, 40% of trainees must be female. The Villagers’ Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan is famous for its grassroots contribution to educating children and adults. Recently, it has enabled several rural women to peruse a course in Solar Engineering, thus facilitating the construction of solar panels in their villages.
According to NSS data, Worker Participation Rate for women has increased steadily, but is still much lower than the WPR for men. A FAO statistic claims that if women were allowed equal access to agricultural resources, the world’s food production would increase by an estimated 25% to 30%, leading to 100 million to 150 million fewer hungry people. Depriving roughly half the country’s potential labour force of education and employment does a disservice to both the residents of that country, as well as to its economy.
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