Hard working, with ambitious dreams for a bright future, more easily united and more able to do different jobs compared to village men. Why the role of women is critical to long-term change.
Shimla Maravi comes from the village of Kadgo in the Kawardha district of Chhattisgarh where most of the communities belong to the Gond Tribe.
Shimla is 26 – the eldest of three children. Her family depends mostly on agriculture to live – they have a small plot of land on which they grow rice paddy, maize, wheat and chickpeas which brings in enough money to sustain them day to day.
Her parents describe Shimla as obedient, disciplined and above all responsible towards her family. She’s bright and a keen student and despite their modest income, her parents were determined that she should atttend university, even if it meant selling their jewellery and other precious belongings to to pay for her tuition. Their sacrifice paid off and Shimla graduated from the local college with a BSc.
Not long after, her village received a visit by staff from FRANK Water Partner, Samerth. In an early meeting with villagers, Shimla caught the attention of Samerth CEO Gazala. Her confidence and hard work stood out from the crowd. After the meeting, Gazala approached Shimla to ask whether she’d like to join the Samerth team as livelihood extender – someone who advises and supports others to improve and increase their income. Gazala knew she had something about her that other women and girls would respect and listen to. Shimla accepted immediately and launched herself into the role, attending training and workshops to develop her skills and knowledge.
When Gazala told us this story, she described women in the villages as hard workers, with ambitious dreams for a bright future, more easily united and more able to do different jobs compared to village men.
And It’s not just Samerth that recognise how critical the role of women is in bringing about change. Almost all government agencies and NGOs now focus on empowering women to strengthen vulnerable and marginalised communities from within. A strong female role model helps other women in the community to believe that change can happen.
Shimla hopes to use her job to help the most vulnerable tribal women in the area by forming groups and supporting them to claim their rights to government assistance including education, health and livelihoods.
Already, she’s outperforming expectations. She’s set up three different groups for women and helped another young woman find work. Girls and young women in the villages where she works seek her for advice across all areas of their lives.
“A lady like Shimla is very rare in the tribal area - she has the guts to develop ten Shimlas to make the village beautiful, peaceful and living in harmony”