Samjhana Tharu

Samjhana Tharu dreams to represent women on district level

 – It may seem like a small thing, but to us it has meant everything, says Samjhana Tharu.

Samjhana Tharu is a member of a newly established women’s group in the village of Nandanagar. Growing up in a poor and marginalised community, she never had a chance to attend school or vision a different life for herself. However, after only 4 months of group meetings she has gotten a new outlook on life, and now dreams of representing the group on a district level.

Traditional structures
In Nandanagar, education levels are low, and discrimination based on gender, caste and religion is a frequent occurrence. Traditional structures are still prevailing, resulting in women’s rights often being suppressed. The attitudes often prevent women from achieving an education or pursue a career outside of the home.

– Most women do not even have a citizenship, Samjhana explains.

Women’s groups for change
In an effort to change these structures, IM together with its’ partner organization SSDC, work to sensitize the communities. This is done by establishing women’s groups for social, economic and cultural inclusion. These groups then become a tool to increase awareness and build the capacity of people. Through mobilizing the women, they are being made aware of their rights, and thus given the means to change the situation for themselves as well as others.

As a member of one of these women’s groups, Samjhana has now attained a citizenship, an important part of being empowered. She is also starting to learn how to write, and her awareness on women’s rights has increased.

– It may seem like a small thing, but to us it has meant everything, she says.

New advocators
Still, the women’s ambitions have not stopped there. Through meetings with the local school they have ensured the regular attendance by teachers. They have also gone door to door in the village, talking about the importance of education, an effort that has resulted in all children being enrolled in school. Thus, after only 4 months of meetings the women themselves have become advocators for change.

Changing the community
However, changing discriminating structures demands the involvement of the whole community, not only the women. The men are therefore regularly invited to the meetings, and the women explain how they have gone from hesitant to positive.

– Now they encourage us to go outside of the house to find work, says Samjhana.

To be able to do so, the women in the group are going to receive skill-training in tailoring and handcraft, so that they for the first time can bring in their own income. However, this is only the beginning for Samjhana, who dreams of representing women on a district level and help more women become empowered. She is thus an important part in IM’s work to advocate for an inclusive and equal society.

By: Anna Lindhe, IM Intern.
November 2018

Samjhana Tharu
(Photo by: Anna Lindhe, IM)