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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

From Being A Child Bride To Giving Jobs To 70 Rural Women, Durga Shares Her Story Of Grit

  • IWB Post
  •  July 8, 2019

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 the same holds true for the movement of Feminism – different face in different demography. Not to say that no progress has been made in the villages, or that urban influencers are not trying to extend their reach, but the question is, are efforts centered towards reducing the parallelism? It is not a hidden fact that a lot of work needs to be done towards safety of women and their empowerment.

So every time I get to hear a story, of a woman emerging “empowered” from a rural background, I want to give her my utmost respect and greet her success with sincere acknowledgement. For not only does she have to struggle with a more rigid and orthodox social structure, but in most cases, fights all her battles alone and without any educational support either. On similar lines is the story of Durga Yadav.

Durga Yadav

A native of Delwara village of Rajasthan, Durga was married when she was 5 and at the age of 15 was sent to her husband’s house, where she conceived her first child within a year. “I was 17 when I began to learn drawing, which came from seeing my mother-in-law doing stitching and patchwork. My elder sister was enrolled with the handicraft team of Sadhna, the organization that made me see my wings. Our head there appreciated my designs and I didn’t even realise when 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”, the note our conversation started on.

Fortunate to have gotten married into a progressive family, Durga didn’t have to deal with the typical atrocities, but she acknowledged the fact that our country’s rural setup has most women struggle a lot. Durga worked as a group leader of Sadhna for seventeen years, the women’s handicraft enterprise that works to provide alternative incomes for women in Udaipur’s rural, tribal and urban slum areas. In her tenure, she convinced families of more than 300 women to support and encourage them to work, and ascertained in them, the need and importance of empowerment.

Mother of two daughters and a son, Durga recently got her elder daughter admitted to a medical college, and shared that the younger one is aiming for the same too. And when questioned by the audience about her son, she said, “He, too, should become something. I hope he seeks inspiration from his sisters” – the auditorium couldn’t contain the applaud her statement gathered.

Durga Yadav

Speaking about the achievement that moved her to joyful tears, Durga talked about the opportunity to visit 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 rural India with an aim to create one million jobs for women, and with the team of which Durga came in contact during her years at Sadhna.

“I sometimes pick the newspaper to read the astrology column; one day it read that a foreign trip is expected and it made me laugh! But you never know with life, for the very next hour I got the 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 also her husband, who took care of all the legal documentation for her, she shyly revealed.

‘Unlike an empowered man, an empowered woman empowers many more’, words that I strongly believe in. And while talking to Durga, got reminisced of:

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.

Durga Yadav

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.

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