As part of livelihood and income generation program for village women, I have handled one innovative program. For economic and social empowerment, by the end of May, 2019 we have purchased total 300 cows with support of Rotary and DISHA organization. We have given these cows to the 300 women beneficiaries from Maval Taluka and Mulshi Taluka of Pune District, Maharashtra, India as income generation project.
During project period, I have conducted around 35 market visits in 2 cow markets within Maharashtra State, with overnight journey from 5 to 15 hours and stay before and after of cow purchase, in the market cities. I traveled by heavy vehicles arranged by beneficiary families such as heavy vehicles, tempo, pick up etc., with minimum 5 to maximum 20 male members from beneficiary families and with my team members.
Initially few experts from field told me that:-
- Women can not handle this type of cow project, as it is very demanding project,
- Women can not go in cow market as all business people, vendors, farmers, veterinary experts, government officials all are male,
- Women can not travel locally or across districts continuously due to demanding work
It was really challenge for me, I felt bad when people demotivated me and questioned my leadership as woman. I accepted challenge and completed work before given time. I have kept my health and family behind for work priority.
I have observed that in cow market, 99% male are handling all business. In villages, I observed that women are handling 90% work of cow raring work such as cleaning of cow and cow shed, fodder management, taking care of cows etc. Since major issues related to decision making and finance etc. are still in control of men. So during village level meetings and trainings, I have discussed gender and women economic empowerment issues. In this project, only 4 women came to market with me for cow purchase and in remaining cases all male from beneficiary families visited cow market for cow purchase.
After successfully completing work, again many people raised many issues such as :-
- You worked with men only
- You are travelling with men
Finally they connected all issues to my character, and questioned my integrity and commitment towards my work for social cause. I am not against male, but I am want to raise my voice against patriarchy and patriarchal attitude. I fighting for gender equality and also want to advocate women's rights local to global.
Even after facing number of challenges, I am happy and proud to be leader because I have received lot of trust and support from many male members from my team, from farmers, vendors and veterinary experts for successfully completion of project. CIP Fellowship, World Pulse has gave me lot of courage to express myself and encouraged my leadership to handle challenges.