Meera Devi (seen left) was once a simple village woman, but now she is the secretary of an Self Help Group (SHG), knows about dairy and animal management and earns an income thanks to her work for Women on Wings’ business partner SRIJAN.
Bounded by traditional rural life
Meera lives with her husband and in-laws in Rampura, a village in Rajasthan. She has faced issues that so many rural women have to deal with: she was dominated by male family members and she had to live within the cultural and religious traditions of her in-laws. Her family’s income was completely dependent on whatever the men earned in agriculture and Meera was unable to contribute to the household income as she was not allowed to work outside the home. Two years ago, Meera found out about SRIJAN’s SHG’s and her life changed forever.
SRIJAN’s Self Help Group brings out best in Meera
Despite the fact that her in-laws did not support her, Meera became a very active member of the SHG. Her cluster started functioning well and she was chosen as its secretary. This not only gave Meera self-esteem and confidence, it also changed her position within her family. She was contributing to the family household thanks to her income and her in-laws finally gave her the recognition and support she deserved. Through the SHG, Meera learned about dairy and animal rearing and became the Pashu Sakhi (animal friend/specialist) in her cluster.
Surrounding villages came to know about Meera’s excellent skills, started asking her for advice and began referring to her as Doctor Sahiba. “Neither my parents nor I ever expected me to become a doctor,” Meera says, “but it all happened because of SRIJAN. They not only taught me the basics of treating animals but also built up my confidence. Now I can help others learn about animal treatment.”
Today, Meera is also the secretary of Maitree Mahila Mandal, the dairy program run by SRIJAN. She earns enough money to fulfil her basic needs and continue her studies. But helping other women in distress is Meera’s primary motivation. She offers free services and training to those who cannot afford it.
Role model for rural women
The major benefit of an SHG is the strength that the women have as a group. Women are no longer afraid to voice their opinions and they motivate each other. They can achieve much more as a group than as individuals. Confident, talented and self-sufficient, Meera Devi is a role model for young women in the rural community. SRIJAN is very proud of Meera and dedicated a cartoon to her. Here you can watch the Meera slide show (9 pages, click to continue).