Have you ever seen a woman carrying the luggage of commuters in a railway station? You will in Katni railway station, Madhya Pradesh.
Sandhya Marawi – India’s first woman coolie clad in red overalls with badge number 36, is breaking all stereotypes. She took up the job to feed her three kids.
Sandhya’s husband passed away in October last year. When she found it difficult to make ends meet, she chose this odd job to look after her children and mother-in-law. She is the only breadwinner of the family.
Sandhya told Daily Bhaskarthat her husband died due to prolonged illness and she found it difficult to raise the children and look after her mother-in-law. She didn’t want her children to suffer. Sandhya approached many people, and some of them told them about this job in Katni railway station.
She works with 45 other male coolies. After completing all the household jobs, she comes to Katni railway station travelling 45 kms from her hometown. She started this work in January last year.
A determined woman, she carries all the weight on her head and shoulders and works hard to earn bread and butter for her family.
It is the 21st century and India is developing rapidly, however, the pace of development in rural and urban India is varying due to the lack of accessibility and opportunities in rural India. While children in these areas have limited access to quality education leading to unemployment and social exclusion, women are still at the back seat of household decision making and contribution to household income.
To break through the traditional norms and empower women in rural India is an ongoing endeavor. Project Nand Ghar, spearheaded by Vedanta Group, a globally diversified natural resources company, brings a ray of hope to rural India by providing education, nutrition, and healthcare to thousands of rural children and empowering women to gain economic independence through livelihood training workshops.
Nand Ghars are state-of-the-art modern Anganwadis built across rural India with a holistic approach to child welfare and skill development for women. Trade-based skill training workshops carried out at Nand Ghars have impacted women from the remotest part of the country enabling them to earn their own livelihood.
Their recent campaign on International Women’s Day was a celebration of #BalanceForBetter where women shared their stories of discovering pathways to self-reliance with help and support by Nand Ghar.
“The outside world was a far off reality for me from inside the boundary of our house. Nand Ghar helped open up the horizons and today, I am earning a livelihood and have found a purpose in Life,” says Dharma Maurya from Varanasi.
Thousands of women like Dharma Maurya have in them the urge to do something but do not have a platform, to begin with. Nand Ghar is giving them a purpose in life and wings to their dreams. Click on the link below to explore their stories.
Anil Agarwal, Founder, and Chairman, Vedanta Group, believes that a nation can only progress if we invest in the future of children and women. Vedanta in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development aims at constructing 4000 Nand Ghars across 11 states in India with the potential of impacting lives of 8.5 Cr children and 2 Cr women in rural India.
In a milestone achievement, Vedanta recently announced the inauguration of its’ 500th Nand Ghar at Chaksu Block in Jaipur. Today, 502 operational Nand Ghars across Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh are changing the lives of 17,000 children through pre-school learning imparted through advanced teaching with more than 11,000 of them being served nutritious meals every day. More than 8,000 women have obtained trade based skill training at Nand Ghar.
With more than 70% of the population living in rural India, the need for early childhood education and women empowerment cannot be undermined. The Logical Indian appreciates the efforts of Vedanta which is tirelessly working towards transforming the women and child development landscape in India.