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Published on: April 5, 2022, 5:57 p.m.
Equal rights, equal opportunities
  • HZL-Manjari team’s Sakhi project transforms the lives of women

By Business India Editorial

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world as well. SDG-5 aims to grant the feminine gender equal rights and opportunities to live free without workplace discrimination or any violence. 

The development of Goal 5 has had its share of challenges as faced in earlier situations. The transformed journey of women after the innovative ‘Sakhi Project’ of the HZL-Manjari team and the positive outcomes has been seen through this.

The Sakhi project is an outcome of consistent support, guidance and assistance. The Manjari Foundation believed in the fact that women have equal potential, which can now be witnessed in the Hurda village.

Before the Sakhi Project was implemented, the dependency of the women on the male counterparts was high. But it changed when the Sakhi magic began to work.

The actions of Sakhi comply with guidelines of UN Sustainable Development Goals. SDG-5 calls for clean water and sanitation for all people. Hindustan Zinc’s constant involvement at grassroots levels was seen best by the residents of the village Hurda. Through constant guidance and motivation of women, HZL and Sakhi helped the women to stage a peaceful agitation, which sensitised the stake-holders of the legal system, to ensure the supply of potable water to the residents of Hurda.

“I am not alone”, says Ugma Devi, age 57, a member of the Jai Shree Ram SHG. A widow living in Hurda, she is supported by the self-help group. Another SHG member in Jai Singhpura village lost her husband in a road accident. The SHG came to her support and took care of her.

“You don’t have to be a doctor to save lives” – the saying has been proved by the Sakhi women, who saved the lives of people by donating blood. Also, the integrated efforts of people to combat the Covid-19 pandemic was visible everywhere. From an immunity booster, kaada, to sanitisers, many requirements of the new normal life after Covid-19 were provided by the Sakhi women. The Sakhi Food Bank was also created during this pandemic. 

Working wonders 

According to Vijay Shree, age 27, Radhey Govind SHG, the change in the mindset of the villagers of Hurda is the outcome of the efforts of the Sakhi Project. It reinforced the belief that co-operation and self-help can work wonders!

Sumitra Vaishnav, age 25, a resident of village Chachiya, Ajmer district, Rajasthan, is a beneficiary of Sakhi Project, implemented by Manjari Foundation and supported by Hindustan Zinc. Sumitra couldn’t pursue her education beyond standard VII. She got married at an age of 19, when her husband was not even in a position to support the family. Her father-in-law had died 25 years ago and her mother-in-law used to support the family, working as a labourer. The meagre cash inflow was not sufficient to support the family even for basic necessities. 

In 2017, the Sakhi Project brought rays of hope. Community resource persons (CRP) from Dholpur visited the area and tried to engage the women residents of the village by guiding them on the Sakhi project. They briefed the women residents of the area regarding the functioning, rules and regulations of women-led institutions.

The effort won the confidence of the women, which led to the creation of self help groups in the village. Sumitra became a member of Balaji Self Help Group. “I joined the SHG, but some people were not happy with my decision,” says Sumitra. “My mother-in-law was the first to come to my support. Trust-building took time, but it happened. I started a stationary and fancy store, selling clothes, footwear, stationary, women’s cosmetics and other items. Its current valuation comes to Rs2.5 lakh. I have taken a loan of Rs1.5 lakh from the SHG. Today, my average daily sale comes to Rs1,000, which ensures a profit of Rs200-250.” 

From a situation when the family was striving hard to support themselves with one meal a day, to a state of self-reliance, the journey was momentous. And, it reveals the impact of the Sakhi project at the grassroots level. 

Sushila Salvi, age 33, too moved up the SHG way. Hailing from Kharata village, in Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan, she belonged to the scheduled caste. Her marriage at the age of 17 curtailed her education to Standard VIII. Her husband used to earn about Rs8,000 a month, as an auto mechanic – quite insufficient for the family to survive in today’s world. So, Sushila followed the Sakhi initiative, leading to the remarkable transformation.

Sakhi Project had become active in the area in 2017. The Sakhi Team approached her and guided her on various aspects of ‘self help’. “This move resolved the family’s financial issues and we were no longer required to seek the money lender’s assistance,” 

says Sushila. She took a loan to purchase a four-wheeler, which is used as a taxi by a member of the family to augment the family’s income. From an earning of Rs8,000 per month to an inflow of Rs20,000 today, the progress speaks volumes about the evolution of Sushila. 

“I am grateful to Sakhi and HZL-Manjari team for all the support,” Sushila says. She now aspires to educate the children and achieve financial independence. “Come out. Grab the chance Sakhi is offering,” she exhorts. “Yes, you can.” The rise of Sushila is indeed inspiring! 


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