Power of women

Making a difference


The women of Khamaria village in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur-Kheri district, tired of suffering without adequate water facilities, started digging a pond all by themselves.The womenfolk of  non-descript Khamaria village in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur-Kheri district now know it only too well.

Situated in a remote corner of the district, Khamaria village, about 150 kilometres from here, did not have even the basic facilities. It lacked  facilities for water like hand pumps, wells  or tanks . This compelled the residents to  trek for miles to fetch water for themselves and their livestock. During the summers the hand pumps and wells in nearby villages also dried up compounding their misery.

While the men resigned themselves to their fate, the poor and illiterate women of the village took up the challenge to resolve the problem themselves. They dug a pond in the village without taking any help of the menfolk.

Repeated pleas of the villagers with the officials fell on deaf ears as the district authorities took no step to resolve the problem. Even the local MLA expressed his inability to do anything in the matter.

Frustrated with such apathy, the women then decided to ‘do something themselves’. A group of 15 women approached the Block Development office of Mitauli under which the village falls to give them work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme ( NREGS).

Jagpata Devi of the village, who was on the forefront of this initiative said: “We met the block development officer and sought work under NREGS  in October last year”. The officials, however, kept making one excuse after another for months together.

She added “We did not lose hope and continued to visit the office regularly and ultimately they yielded and we were given work in February this year”.

The women decided to dig a pond to tackle the water problem. Another member of the group Ramkali, said “We knew very well that it was not an easy task”. She added: “The digging work began on a war footing soon after. We decided not to take the help of the men folk”.

Ramkali said:  “The men folk were reluctant to help us as they felt that the task was impossible and so we decided to do it ourselves.”

Although the work was hampered mid way owing to the lok sabha polls and the wedding season, the digging work is almost complete, she said.

Kamla Devi said “Very soon the pond will be filled with water and then we will not have to trek to other villages to fetch water for us and our livestock.”

A local voluntary organisation Rozi-Roti lent the women a helping hand by creating awareness among the women of the area. “The women of the area live in abject backwardness...the success of such an effort will go a long way in empowering the women of the locality”, said Pratap, a member of the NGO.

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