From Being A Child Bride To Giving Jobs To 70 Rural Women, Durga Shares Her Story Of Grit
- IWB Post
- January 12, 2018
In her book, The Other Country, Author-Journalist, Mrinal Pande, talked about the divide between small-town and big-city India, highlighting the ever-widening fault lines that exist between the Rural Bharat and Urban India.
And when we speak of Feminism, unfortunately, it, too, appears to hold a different face in different demography. Not to say that progress hasn’t happened, or that urban influencers are not trying to extend their reach, but the question is, are efforts centered towards reducing the parallelism? Indeed a lot of work needs to be done towards safety of women and their empowerment!
So every time I am listening to a woman who has stepped out “empowered” of a rural background, I feel all the more respectful, and alarmed to listen to their experiences. For not only does she have to face and fight a more rigid and orthodox society structure, but in most cases, has to climb the various stepping stones without the unwavering support that education builds. And on similar lines was the story of Durga Yadav whom I met at the Woman Up! Summit 2017.
A native of Delwara village of Rajasthan, Durga was married at the age of 5 and having been sent off to her husband’s house at 15, she conceived her first child within a year. “I was 17 when I began to learn drawing, on seeing my mother-in-law doing stitching and patchwork. My elder sister was enrolled with the handicraft team of Sadhna, the organization that introduced me to my wings. The head there appreciated my designs and in no time I went from being a learner to leading a team of 20. And you can imagine my happiness for I was simply a 20-year-old”, she exclaimed and with that her eyes numbed.
Fortunate to have got married into a supportive family, Durga didn’t have to deal with the typical atrocities, but she does acknowledge the fact that most women do have to face that, in villages. For 17 years, Durga worked as a group leader of Sadhna, a women’s handicraft enterprise that works to provide alternative incomes for women in Udaipur’s rural, tribal and urban slum areas, during the time of which, she convinced families of more than 300 women, and ascertained a state of empowerment for them, too!
Mother of two daughters and son, she recently got her elder daughter admitted to a medical college, and shared that the younger one is aiming for the same. And when questioned by the audience about her son, she spoke, “He, too, should become something. I hope he seeks inspiration from his sisters”, and the auditorium couldn’t contain the audience’ applaud!
But the one achievement that moved Durga to joyful tears was of going to Netherlands, a “foreign land”, as the Chief Guest of Women On Wings’ tenth anniversary. Women on Wings is a Netherland based NGO that is working in the rural India with an aim to create one million jobs for women, and with whom Durga came in contact during her years at Sadhna.
“I sometimes pick the newspaper to read the astrology column; one day it read that foreign trip is expected and that made me laugh! But you never know with life, for the next hour I got a call of invitation”. Which she believes wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the founder of Women on Wings, whom she regards as “Maria Ma’am”, and her husband, who carried all the legalities and documentation for her, she shyly revealed.
‘Unlike an empowered man, an empowered woman empowers many more’, words that found a home in my head ever since they first rung in. And while speaking to her, the belief only strengthened:
Me: So, what are you currently engaged in?
Durga: I worked with Sadhna for 17 years, but am now doing my own work of silver-jewelry, and have a group of more than 70 women working with me. It is important that I help more women come out of their houses and make them skilled. We procure pure silver, which you know, comes rather expensive, and then carve our own designs on it.
When I asked if she was adorning her own designed jewelry, she smiled and couldn’t resist showing off. And also offered to design for me, so I am sorted, ha-ha.
Me: How do you find the market but? Do you participate in the city exhibitions?
Durga: Yes, we do participate in the exhibitions. And other than that, I also have networked with various dastakars. They bring in the order, and accordingly, we make the jewelry.
Me: Oh! And what about the income, have you been saving yet? Future Plans?
Durga: She smiled, no savings, yet. Silver comes expensive, and so whatever earning happens, has to be put back into the business. But I do have things planned, about how I need to expand. It will take some more time, but I am prepared for it. I will never compromise on creating real authentic jewelry, however much time it may take me to raise my income, she stated clearly.
IWB wishes you all the luck, Durga! Keep up, Woman up!