“I want to help marginalized women avail benefits of government schemes.”
Savita Dilip Bhore of Ekurka village of Kalamb Taluka has started a movement for establishing Self-Help Groups in her village. Through these groups, many women have become business professionals and the village is now moving towards organic farming. There are about 2500 villagers in Ekurka. Farming is their primary occupation. However, this is in jeopardy as the benefits of government schemes do not always reach the farmers. This problem is intensified because of overbearing landlords and other such reasons. Savita Dilip Bhore is standing up against this very situation and has resolved to change it. Taking inspiration from the work of Swayam Shikshan Prayog, she has started her efforts in the last two years.
Initially, Savita set up the Jevan Jyoti Women’s Self-Help Group. Through this, she helped women become self-employed by providing loans. She explained the importance of Self-Help Groups to other women as well to mobilize them further. They faced problems when establishing these groups, but they overcame these problems and over time, a total of 25 groups have been set up. As loans are available through the help of these groups, many women have successfully set up businesses and agri-allied ventures. Women in these groups not only work towards their economic development, but also focus on all other problems faced by women. Following this, Savita Bhore has begun efforts to set up a venture that will employ 50 women at once.
As women began to form associations, they turned their attention towards and raised their voices against overbearing landlords. They also attempted to ban alcohol in the village. Taking help from the police, they followed up on the action to be taken against alcohol sellers. As a result, liquor sellers in the village have received a major setback.
Farming is the main occupation of the village. However, majority of the villagers use chemicals in their farming practices. Savita explained to the farmers the consequences on health that food grains cultured with chemicals has. In addition, she campaigned for the benefits of organic farming practices. Following this, women farmers began to take the initiative to cultivate crops organically. Now, they supply food and grains to fulfil the needs of their families.
Women have also been using natural methods to curb the menace of pests and rot. At present, 70 women in the village are involved in organic farming. Ekurka village is seeing an organic farming revolution. Since female farmers have produced good yields through organic farming, the heads of families are now emphasizing the use of organic techniques. Savita Bhore has said that they are now making efforts to spread the use of organic farming techniques to nearby villages as well.
Apart from organic farming, Savita has also stressed the importance of soil testing, farm ponds, drip irrigation, tree plantation and conservation.
The association of women also helped in the construction of toilets in the village. They have made sure that government subsidies and benefits reach the beneficiaries. As of today, 80% of the construction of toilets has been completed and efforts are on to complete the rest. Savita is also involved in helping the needy receive the appropriate benefits from government schemes and for pension funds for widows and elderly villagers.
Farming and allied businesses is how many families run their livelihood in Savita’s village. Many stuck within the binds of tradition stop their girl’s education after the 7th or 8th class. Savita Bhore has explained the importance of higher education for girls and the need to make them self-sufficient and stand independently on their own feet. She helped crowdfund a girl’s education which was stopped due to financial hardships. Women in the village donate Rs. 10 for educating girls in need. Besides this, Savita Bhore and her associates work towards preventing child marriage and towards the health of girls.