“I want to fight caste discrimination and make my village free of Jaat Panchayat.”
Her visions are many. She wants to fight alcoholism in her village. She wants people in her to pursue livelihood opportunities other than their traditional ones. She wants to show the women in her village that they are capable of stepping out of their homes and earning a respectable livelihood.She wants to address the negative influence of the ‘Jaat Panchayat’ or caste Panchayat. Through the Fellowship, Kajal wants to take up a big challenge – to make her village a moneylender-free village. Kajal wants to work closely with women’s groups to fight caste discrimination.
Kajal Pawar lives in Umbarge, a small village in Solapur. Her first priority is to fight alcoholism in her village. She knows how it destroys people’s lives. Her own family owned a local liquor processing unit and used to sell alcohol in their village. After joining the local Self-Help Group, Kajal was empowered to realize the negative effects of this livelihood. Despite it being a traditional occupation of her family, with her influence, they shut down this business. This made Kajal realize that most people follow this traditional occupation because they are not aware of other livelihood opportunities.
Kajal wants to show the women in her village that they can step out of their homes and earn a respectable livelihood. She assesses the competencies of the women she works with and links them with suitable livelihood schemes, for example, goat and poultry farming, and sewing. She believes that women need to be happy with whatever enterprises they want to undertake as that is the true motivation to help them do better and earn more. She also wants to include widowed as well as lower-caste women from her village in her endeavors.
Through the Fellowship, Kajal wants to take up a big challenge – to make her village a moneylender-free village. She been through similar circumstances and has overcome them – she is very confident about enabling change within her community as well. Kajal understands that her biggest challenge is to change the attitude and mindset of her community members and has very specific ideas on how she will do so.
Another burning issue Kajal wants to address is the negative influence of the Jaat Panchayat or caste Panchayat. In her village, the Jaat Panchayat has a huge influence on the social practices of the village and harsh punishments are often meted out to women and men who break caste barriers. Kajal believes that every single individual has the right to live with respect and dignity and get justice. Kajal wants to work closely with women’s groups to fight caste discrimination.
Kajal’s biggest proof is her own story from economic dependence to independence and her fight against the personal caste discrimination that she faced. She believes she can break the Jaat Panchayat and its unfair practices through the power of women!