The Butterfly Effect: Single Women’s Stories of Change
The Single Women Organization (एकल महिला संघटना) in Marathwada has made countless changes in the lives of women, both big and small. The following are a few of those stories, as told by the women themselves.
My education stopped after the 9th standard. I got married and had children. A few years ago, the single women’s organization started in my village. At the time, I really wanted to get the position of Anganwadi Sevika (rural child rights caretaker). However, because I did not have enough education I was not able to get the job. This made me feel really bad, but it also motivated
When I became a widow, my in-laws took the property that had been in my husband’s name and threw me out of the house. I went to live with my parents and started working as a labour for my children’s future. I joined the single women’s organization in my village. The meetings made me think about getting my husband’s house in my name. The organization members helped me meet with the village official and discuss the problem. At first, the official was not convinced, but after discussing the legal rights he gave me documents to fill in. Now, because of the single women’s organisation I have a roof over my head!
Noor Jahan Shaikh
During my work with the single women’s organisation, I would help resolve women’s property cases. I always wondered why I myself had no property in my name. After I had separated from my husband, I did not get anything from him, so I decided I needed to stand up for my rights. I received some donations gathered by the organisation. I also saved money from my tailoring business. Our organization also started a new initiative to buy and plant 50 tamarind trees in the village. We gathered and sold the tamarind fruit and saved some more money. With all of my new savings, I was able to invest 2,00,000 rupees in a plot of land and in my new future!
I was so angry when my alcoholic husband told me he wanted to sell our house. I found support in the single women’s organization, who helped me meet with the village official and eventually supported me in getting joint ownership of the house. Today I feel that without the
When I was 17 years old I was married. Within the first year of my marriage, I became a widow, on the same day that I gave birth to my son, I lost my husband. For a long time, there were no opportunities for work in the village. Then, the single women’s organisation helped to create our self-help group. Since I knew sewing, we decided to take a loan of 25,000 rupees and invest in sewing machines. Now, in the summer, we are making a profit from out sewing work!
People of various castes live in my village and each group has their graveyard. However, every community, except for Dalits, are allowed to use the village gate for the site of their funerals. When I found out about this, I tried to gather various groups in the village to stop this practice. People from some communities in the village were against me, but when we got the help of the police, system officials, and the law they had to concede. I feel happy that the single women organisation has stood beside me in this battle.
Stories by Ram Shelke. Translated by Namrata Kamath. Edited by Neomi Rao.