CORO’s way of celebrating International Day of Rural Women!

Mangal Kamble was born in a small village called Sambalwadi in the district of Kolhapur. Both of her parents were daily-wage labourer. Mangal was a keen student since childhood but due to the opposition of her parents, she left school when she was just about 10. Her marriage was set up at a very young age and later she came to realize that, what had happened with her was unjust. Her husband didn’t care for her. Her life had hit the rocks of reality and all her hopes sank in depression.

As Mangal describes – ‘The internal fight was painful’. But when she saw women much like her, in conditions sometimes worse than her, she wiped out the sorrow and pledged to fight against this injustice. She began by a gathering of all women in her village, and forming a Mahila Mandal (Women’s Association). Then she started a tailoring class for young women. Visiting various villages, she studied the problems faced by the people living there and courageously approached the authorities in order to resolve them. She started collecting information from Block Development Officer (BDO), Tahsildar’s (Revenue officials) office to solve problems faced by women and other people belonging to so-called ‘backward classes’. Mangal founded an organization called – ‘Savtribai Phule Sarva Seva Mahila Audhyogik Utpadak Seva Sanstha’. Through this she put forth a plea to acquire buffaloes for those women who come below poverty line and successfully acquired 10 buffaloes for them. She started a Rationing Shop and later a Zunka-bhaakar center. Mangal was supported in this by the then Tahsildar Ms. Sheela Katkar.

In the year 2010-11, Mangal got fellowship from CORO. She describes her experience as follows: ‘Training that we got was very efficient. With that, the gathering of people from all over the state, with their bold objectives, perspectives and respective issues that they were working on, shone light on many things’. To make women aware of the law regarding co-ownership of house, to make elected women aware of their rights and duties, encouraging women to participate actively in village sessions was the work done in the one year of her fellowship program. Mangal decided to implement the law of co-ownership of house’ in four villages. By increasing people’s awareness, she helped pass this bill in village council. Along with co-ownership of house, she made it possible for every couples’ name to be registered on 7/12 (land ownership) documents. This helped women to get an equal share on land too. In her one year of fellowship itself, she had helped more than 400 houses in her village as well as houses in 3 other villages to gain equal share of property. In her training, Mangal came across the ‘Right to Information Act’. She made the best use of this Act in her work. Mangal is always ready for the welfare of women in villages, oppressed people, to fight for them, help them gain their socio-economic justice.

Today, Mangal Kamble works for organizing women and developing them. To do this, she personally visits villages. To form women’s associations, self-help groups, communicating with them, creating awareness about their rights, newly formed policies and guiding them are all Mangal’s objectives. Working with Right to Food, Pension, Education, Health, Cleanliness, Violence against women, has become her day-today work. She says, “Each and every woman should become independent. There must be an equal opportunity for women in society and in politics. & to get their rights, women must fight together”.