Success Stories

MGNREGA and Women Status

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My name is Gayatri Manhar. I am 40 years old. I reside in a village called Taldevri. After completing my 8th standard in school, I was married. We are a poor family and live below the poverty line. We belong to the Scheduled Caste community and my husband, Ujiyalal Manhar and I look after all the needs of our seven member family. We have three daughters and two sons. Taldevri is a single village Panchayat falling within the Bamhindih block of Janjgri-Champa district. Our village is located on the road side. We have to travel 16 kilometers to reach the block headquarters. Taldevri is 41 kilometers from the district headquarters in Janjgir. The nearest railway station is Champa which is 30 kilometers away. Given that our village is located on the road side, we have no problems with accessing public transport facilities. The Sarpanch of our village belongs to the OBC community and his name is Dileshwar Sahu. About 3400 persons reside in our village. Thevillage is divided into 19 wards. The government has provided us with a higher secondary school, hand pumps for adequate water supply. However, we do not have any health center within the village. A bigger problem in the village is the sale of illicit liquor but we are working to shut down the outlet.
 
Political Empowerment:
We have formed a Self-Help Group which comprises of women from my neighborhood and we formed the group about two years back. We made several efforts to get work under the midday meal scheme; even approached higher authorities, but remained unsuccessful in accessing the contract to provide midday meals in our school. Hence we had to resort to MGNREGS. This provides us women with a platform for mutual interaction. We also met with a functionary of the KALP, when we were on a work-site. He informed us about our rights and entitlements under the scheme. He facilitated the formation of a community-based organization of which I am a part. We have named this Dalit Seva Sangathan. I am the secretary of the CBO and we worked to stop the sale of illicit liquor in the village. We women were extremely upset with this as it impacted on the environment of our village and the 110 women of the collective initiated a campaign for prohibition. We are happy that due to the campaign effort, we met with the Collector, Superintendent of Police and even the Chief Minister of the State. We have collected nearly Rs. 1 lakh for running the Sangathan. We meet with the district administration officials routinely to discuss problems of our village. We have achieved some success given that the Excise department has taken cognizance of our complaint. We even take rounds of our village to ensure that people do not drink and the environment is safe, especially for women. During the course of our work, we faced considerable resistance from vested interests, but we remained strong and united in our efforts. We were thus able to surmount the pressures which we faced as a collective.
 
Social Participation:
MGNERGS has provided us with an additional platform to discuss issues amongst women, apart from the SHG which existed even earlier. We are also able to discuss matters with the larger community, especially those pertaining to service provision within our village. We have decided that we shall seek employment as Mate under the scheme. Why should women not get this job? Besides, this will enable us to keep a watch over the activities under the scheme.
 
Utilization of assets:
As a result of the implementation of the scheme, ponds have been cleared and deepened; gravel roads have been laid etc. These are utilized by the entire village without any discrimination.
 
Self-identity:
We are known in the village because of the CBO which got formed due to efforts by the KALP and we have a strong identity within the village.  I have become popular due to the successes of the CBO of which I am the secretary. The scheme has also resulted in an improved identity for me amongst those in authority.
 
Impact on migration:
Delayed payments under the scheme have meant that out-migration has not stopped despite MGNREGS. Contractors provide tardy and advance payments which are essential to run our households. We need rapid payments in order to run our homes. 

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