After UN award, rural Indian women's weekly has expansion plans


The weekly paper, which is distributed to more than 20,000 readers in Uttar Pradesh, is created and marketed by newly literate "low caste" women who are training as journalists in Chitrakoot and Banda districts of the state.
In recognising its unique effort, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (Unesco) King Sejong Literacy Prize was given to the paper, started by Nirantar -- a centre for gender and education based in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Thrilled with the recognition, Shalini Joshi of Nirantar said: “This award - about which we came to know from Unesco only last evening - is an affirmation of our work. It is an affirmation of our credibility.”
“We are now planning to expand Khabar Lahariya to three districts in Bihar. The idea of empowering rural women is now spreading,” Joshi said.
Started in 2002, Khabar Lahariya has 15 women, trained as journalists by Nirantar, working in it. Its core team constitutes five women.
“We now have younger reporters in the paper,” Joshi said.
Besides developing their literacy skills and honing their reporting abilities, the women reporters are trained to talk to public figures, gather information and sharpen editing skills.
The coverage of Khabar Lahriya includes politics, crime, social issues and entertainment for a readership that spans 400 villages in both Chitrakoot and Banda districts of India's most populous state.
In 1989, the Unesco's King Sejong Literacy Prize was instituted by South Korea. It is named after Sejong the Great of the 14th century who created the Korean alphabet Hangul and is remembered for his contribution to education in the areas of science, technology and literature. Each winner is awarded $20,000.
Nirantar was one of the four winners of the award.

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