Village Women Entrepreneurs in Uttarakhand set New Standards, Educate other Women

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Village woman working on the agricultural fields.
village women entrepreneurs who have taken the Sanitation initiative are role models for others. VOA

Rishikesh, June 14, 2017: Sanitation initiative has not only acted as a spring board for the employment facilities but has also ensured 360-degree improvement in hygienic conditions. The major factor of it is that it has even encouraged the women entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector. It is to be noticed that agriculture is considered to be the backbone of nation’s economy.

Women like Rajeshwari Devi and Beena Devi who work as daily wagers and struggled to win the square meal a day as they belong to the lower strata of the social ladder and suffer the pains of poverty.

They are members of an association of 25 women who come from Lal Dhang and other neighbouring villages in Haridwar district of Uttarakhand. Moreover, they are also active participants in the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All) initiative. WASH initiative will encourage women all over the villages and other backward areas like slums to engage themselves in the entrepreneurships.

This group of women are toiling hard together to collect sufficient funds to build healthy and hygienic infrastructures like toilets with would revolutionize the physical setup of the villages. They will then sell these toilets to raise funds to fight against the environmental woes such as pollution and diseases. Everyone in the village could have access to safe and clean drinking water as well as toilet facilities. This step will help in putting a halt to manual scavenging and open defecating tradition in India.

“We have faced problems of not having a toilet at home. So when they approached us for the project, we immediately said yes. We belong to a conservative society, so people opposed our decision to step out of the house for this,” says Beena.

According to the PTI report, she says that she is happy that the women have learnt something which will enable them to have a better future for their kids.

Rajeshwari states that rather than demoralizing them, hurdles have only encouraged them to never lose faith in themselves. Now they are even deciding to take the initiative of ensuring the toilet facilities in the surrounding villages. They have been trained by the World Toilet College situated at Parmarth Niketan. Rajeshwari also informed that they have also attended a training seminar in January and after that built the first toilets in Veerpur.

“Now we can build twin pit pour flush toilets on our own.We have just built toilets in Veerpur village in Rishikesh which has been commissioned as Ganga gram now,”says Rajeshwari.

This month, two villages were selected: Veerpur Khurd in Dehradun and Mala in Pauri Garhwal which are situated on the banks of the Holy River Ganga to transform them into the ‘Model Ganga Villages’. Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) joined hands with the Union Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry to accomplish this task.

After building the desired infrastructure and remodeling the environmental conditions, these women will take the initiative towards educating and spreading awareness among other women. They will educate them about bio digester toilets encouraging them to grab the employment opportunities which are knocking at their doors.

According to Samuel Herbert (field officer of the project), women can only do this social work during the non-agriculture season as they are entrepreneurs themselves. Moreover, some villages are in remote areas where it is difficult to reach during monsoon. Despite of these obstacles, women are determined enough to overcome these and earn self employment.

Chidanand Saraswati who is a co-founder and co-chairman of GIWA appreciates these women calling them as the role models for others with this sanitation revolution. He said that teaching them to build bio digester toilets was a simpler task consuming relatively low-cost technology for treating human waste.

– prepared by Himanshi Goyal of Newsgram, Twitter: @himanshi1104