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Nixing hooch for weaving, these Assamese women turn a new leaf

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GuwahatiFrom brewing and selling country liquor to weaving exquisite fabrics and also finding a market in neighbouring Bhutan, the women of Chatra, a remote village in Assam’s Nalbari district, have not just elevated themselves to a respectable profession but have changed the image of their village for the better.

Chatra, located about 20 km from Nalbari town in Lower Assam, was till 2009 identified as a liquor den and mostly visited by those looking for moonshine when the women, mostly belonging to the Bodo community decided to switch over to weaving, a skill at which most Assamese women and girls are best at.

They joined hands with Gramya Vikash Mancha (GVM), an NGO that arranged for their advanced training in weaving and tailoring.

The Nalbari district used to be a hotbed of insurgency till the late 1990s and its people suffered a lot due to the frequent military operations. The insurgency had severely affected development in the district till a few years ago.

Padma Boro, one of the women in the village, took the lead and soon encouraged 30 others, “mostly unmarried women and widows”, to abandon country liquor for weaving. The state-owned Northeastern Development Finance Limited (NEDFi) then stepped in to provide to them training on looms at Nalbari’s Industrial Training Institute and took them to Kokrajhar, where they interacted with handloom weavers of the same community and understood the specific market demands.

Back home, they managed two looms of their own while NEDFi provided another eight looms, warping drums and other accessories. The NGO built a temporary shed in the village and their journey began. They produce mekhela chadar (used for making traditional women’s dresses), gamocha (traditional towel), dokhona (used for making traditional dresses of Bodo women) and fabric for traditional robes of neighbouring Bhutan – and made a profit of Rs 80,000 last year, which is expected to rise manifold this year.

The NEDFi has been set up to hasten economic development in the northeastern region by identifying and financing commercially viable industries, providing advisory and consultancy services, promoting entrepreneurship through effective mentoring, skill development and capacity building of micro, small and medium enterprises and generating sustainable livelihoods through micro finance and CSR activities.

“It was very tough to convince the village women to leave hooch making as it was already a good source of earning for most of the rural Bodo women. But it not only painted a bad image about the village as a liquor den and the women did not get time to properly attend to their children. Very few children attended school and the customers who came to the village for drinking often created a ruckus. But as soon as we started weaving and our products started getting good markets, it made them confident about switching over to weaving from selling liquor,” Padma Boro told IANS.

The Bodos are the largest plains’ tribe in Assam and the laopani (rice beer) is a traditional brew made by the community. The laopani is consumed in each household in limited quantity and even used in religious rituals of the community. However, due to poor financial status and lack of opportunities to supplement the family income, women of some of the communities had taken to making country liquor and selling this for hefty profits in some places in the state.

“While the girls and women of our village learn the weaving skills from very tender age, the intervention by the GVM and NEDFi helped us by giving new and attractive designs and the technology to do it better in lesser time. Most women learn the basics of weaving at their homes since childhood and so it took less time for them to pick up the new designs and technology,” Boro said.

“I was making country liquor and used to sell it. I have been making it for years and there was no other option for us to earn a livelihood. Lots of people used to come to my house for a drink and I was earning good enough to live a solitary life. However, Padma baideu (Assamese for elder sister) came to me one day and said that by weaving, I can earn almost equally and live a good life. I decided to go with her as it is honourable work to weave. I was selling the liquor only due to compulsion and why should I sell it when there is a dignified way of earning my livelihood,” asked Rebati Swargiary, a widow who joined Boro’s movement in 2010.

The indomitable spirit of the group encouraged NEDFi to scale up its activities by providing a Common Facility Centre under a joint CSR project with IDBI Bank. To take the project forward, the Bagurumba Weavers’ Development Trust was formed with Padma Bodo as its managing trustee. It purchased a 7,600 sq ft plot, constructed a 2,000 sq ft building and bought new looms and accessories.

“The new building consists of a display room, store, office and a hall accommodating 18 looms. It really feels good to see the rural woman joining hands and improving their lives. Children of the village now go to school and things in the village are changing very fast for the better,” said NEDFi deputy general manager Ashim Kumar Das.

The movement started by Padma Boro has not only given the women financial independence but also a dignified life.

(IANS)

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Checkout Ten Must-Read Books For Women

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Must reads for a woman.
Must reads for a woman. Pixabay

Nothing in this world can give you the feeling which books do. Some stories, some word just touch your heart and end up giving you the greatest lessons of life. Books can be inspiring at times, and help you make the toughest decisions of life. Below are ten must-read books for women:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns

The book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, who has also authored ‘Kite Runner’ revolves around the lives of two women, Mariam and Laila. The beautiful friendship of these two and the things they go through is mesmerizing. The book’s subtlety puts it under the category of must-read books for women.

2. Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson

The Millennium series has three books- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and “The Girl who Played with Fire”. The lead character of the series, Lisabeth Salander, is a confident and bold woman who never follows the old norms of the society and leads her life differently. Her rebellious nature can inspire the girls out there to stand for themselves.

3.  Pride And Prejudice

Must-Reads for women
Pride and Prejudice. Wikimedia.

The classic by Jane Austen teaches you to distinguish between the essential and the superficial. It makes you come across a way of looking at women, which is not judgmental. It teaches you to stand up for righteousness. It is definitely ones of the must-read books for women.

4. The Book Thief

Th novel, “The Book Thief” by the Australian author Markus Zusak gives out the inspiring message that no matter what the situation is, women can come out of it strongly on their own.

5. How To Be A Bawse

The Book, “How to be a Bawse”, by the Canadian YouTuber Lily Singh is a beautiful guide on tackling tough situations in life, supported by the examples of real-life situations. Lily’s classy and sassy video style has already been loved by a lot of women out there.

6. The Hunger Games Trilogy

Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games Trilogy is one of the must-read books for women out there as the book’s lead character Katniss, makes you feel proud of being a girl. Her character motivates you to be your own hero.

7. Daughter By Court Order

“Daughter By Court Order”, by Ratna revolves around the story of a woman who has been disowned by her own family. The woman is fighting against money, power, deceit, and for her right to be recognized as a daughter. She has to handle everything on her own.

8. To Kill A Mocking Bird

The book is written by Harper Lee and is an all-time classic. The book revolves around a six-year-old protagonist who is a feminist and refuses to accept the societal norms and always challenges them.

9. The Diary Of A Young Girl

Must-Read Books For Women
The Diary Of A Young Girl. Wikimedia.

The novel by Anne Frank is set during the time of Nazi invading Netherlands. Anne Frank shares her feelings with her diary while she was in hiding for two years. The emotions and struggles make it one of the must-read books for women.

10. The Palace of Illusions

The book Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni shows the epic Mahabharata, through Draupadi’s eyes. Her problems and shortcomings are shown, along with the fact that how ego can lead to a battle.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. She can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya

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4 Zodiac Signs Women Fall For Easily

These are the zodiac signs which all women are attracted and fall for easily. All these men are quite the catch. Read to Find out more.

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Zodiac Signs Women Fall For Easily
Astrology. Pixabay

Oct 08, 2017: Haven’t you sometimes thought that there are some guys you just instantly fall for? Well, it is not your fault honestly, it is just their stars that make you fall for them. Astrology is known to have defined a person’s interests, personality likes and dislikes and can even predict the unknown future. Here is a list of the Zodiac signs that are bound to promptly score points with the ladies. These are the zodiac signs women fall for easily. If you are a guy and belong to any of the below-given zodiac signs, you should consider yourself lucky and extremely gifted.

Here’s the list of the Zodiac Signs: 

Leo

Leo men are mostly known for their masculinity. Born between July 23 and August 22, they are the one who will never back down, regardless of the situation. It’s actually their strength and their determination that makes grabs the attention of the ladies. The Lion slowly calms down, puts aside his ego. They are very warm and cordial, are never scared of approaching a girl and most important they are extremely passionate and romantic.

Gemini

Gemini men have a very gentle nature. They have the power to understand both the genders. Born between May 21 and June 20, they know very well to use all their qualities to their advantage. Women swoon over their adoring and compassionate personality. The Gemini man is quite the seducer and it is difficult to keep your guard against him.

Capricorn

Capricorn men are ambitious and are always aiming to get the best. A sense of warmth and outgoingness is always around him. He understands his priorities well and keeps up his commitment. Women love such reliable men. Having their birthdays between December 22 and January 19, they are bound to make their to a woman’s heart by their mesmerizing talks. Another exciting fact about them, they are extremely good looking.

Libra 

A Libra man is what every woman wants. He is quite the catch. Being shy in nature, he has a unique aura around which separates him from other men and intrigues the women around him. He is the perfect gentleman. A Libra man will treat with so much love and care by showing romantic gestures. He is the combination of romantic and intellectual. The intellectual talks with him will brighten your day; he will make you never want to fall out of love. Being born between September 23 and October 22, he is the perfect partner for any woman.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha of Newsgram

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5 Women Whose Caliber, Achievements Would Inspire You

Women these days are spearheading in many sectors across the Globe and those listed below are some examples of the leading ladies.

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women
Indra Nooyi. Wikimedia
  • Women like Sheryl Sandberg, Arundati Bhattacharya, Indra Nooyi, Ursula Burns and Annie Wintour have achieved powerful positions defeating the patriarchal norms.
  • They are an inspiration to the millions wanting to succeed in life.

Sep 15, 2017: There was a time when very few names like Indira Gandhi and Kalpana Chawla were heard in the names of empowered women. But, times have certainly changed as every girl next door is now educated and independent. She is not just breaking the stereotypes but also setting a benchmark for a million more to become like her.

With a new wave of feminism being witnessed across the world, women are not just getting into various sectors but also leading it. Below are the examples of the World’s most powerful women whose work and strength are truly inspiring!

  1. Sheryl Sandberg

    Women
    Sheryl Sandberg.  Wikimedia.

Sheryl Sandberg, who served as the Chief Operating Officer for Facebook for four years has played an imperative role in the firm’s success. She is now a board member of the enterprise. Sandberg has been a strong advocate of feminism and equal work pay. She has also founded LeanIn.org, an organization for the empowerment of women across the globe.

2. Arundhati Bhattacharya

Women
Arundhati Bhattacharya. Wikimedia.

Arundhati Bhattacharya is the current Chairman of the State Bank of India (SBI) and one of the most successful bankers of India. She has been a  crucial part of the digitization of the system of SBI; thereby, keeping it at the number one position in the list of Indian banks. In 2016, Forbes magazine listed her as the 25th most powerful woman in the world. Arundhati also focused on making the organisation employee-friendly, especially for women.

Also Read: You Might be able to add Video Reviews to Google Maps Soon!

3. Indra Nooyi

Women
Indra Nooyi. Wikimedia.

Indra Nooyi, the current chairperson and Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of PepsiCo is one of the most renowned names in the world business. From Forbes to Times, she has featured in the list of world’s most powerful women many times. Despite the heavy competition in the market, PepsiCo has not just retained its position in the market but reached unprecedented heights under her leadership.

4. Ursula Burns

Women
Ursula Burns. Wikimedia.

Ursula Burns, the chairman of Xerox Corp is a role model for every woman out there. Fighting all odds and racism, she has reached a spot where she is known as one of the most influential personalities in the world. She was the first African-American woman to become the head of a Fortune 500 company.

She was the C.E.O of Xerox for from 2009-2016. She successfully established the company as a service provider, rather than just a manufacturer of printers and copiers during her tenure as the C.E.O.

5. Anna Wintour

Women.
Anna Wintour. Pixabay.

Anna Wintour, British-American journalist, who has been the editor-in-chief of Vogue for almost two decades.

In 2013, Vintour became the artistic director for Vogue’s publisher, Conde Nast. Her trademark of a pageboy bob haircut and dark sunglasses has been extremely followed. She has always been praised for her support lent to the young fashion designers.

by Megha Acharya of  Newsgram. 


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