Village women empower themselves with Ecofeminism in India

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Author – Shweta Vashistha

There are several social problems that are persisting in our country; lack of women empowerment and water shortage are prominent among them. While these two are different social and environmental issues, let us consider a possibility where these two major issues are cobbled together and their effects are nullified. For instance, underprivileged women find their own way to save the environment, which empowers them and at the same time, tackle the environmental issues that we face.

’Eco-feminism’ is a term coined by a French writer Francoise d’Eaubonne in 1974. The word has a significance in today’s scenario, which basically comprises two words – ecology and feminism, i.e. how women can positively impact the environment. Vandana Shiva is the pioneer who established a homegrown brand of Ecofeminism in India, which believes women have always been the key to solve many of our societal problems, environmental protection is one of them. Here are a few recent interesting trends where village women are taking the lead in ecological conservation and in turn building the momentum for Ecofeminism:

MP village women dig their own well

Langoti may be an odd name for a village, but such a village exists In the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. Just like any other backward village, this village too has an unjust system of separation of upper castes and Dalits. The Dalit part of the Langoti village had no access to water, making the lives of those underprivileged people miserable especially for women, who like other women in different parts of our country had to fetch water from long distances.

The women not only had courage but were also determined to solve this problem. So these Dalit women went to the Langoti gram panchayat and asked them to build a well in the nearby area. But the panchayat refused due to lack of funds. Undaunted, the women picked up shovels and hammers and got down to digging a water well by themselves. Within 40 days, the women could dig up a well 20 feet deep. After digging the well up to 20ft they started facing some problems due to the hard rocks at the ground level but with the help of hammers and other tools the water started flowing in the well.

Rajasthani village celebrates girl child birth by planting trees

Piplantri village in Rajasthan stands as a contradiction in a country like ours where female foeticide has been a common practise. The village’s former sarpanch Shyam Sundar Paliwal was instrumental in starting an interesting eco-friendly initiative in the memory of his daughter Kiran, who died very young. To confront this unfortunate event Shyam Sundar Paliwal started a tradition in which 111 trees are planted on the birth of every girl child. In his support all the villagers not only plant saplings but also take care of them. It is also interesting to note that the villagers plant Aloevera around these trees to save them from termites. Further, the forest produce that they get from trees have become a source of income for many villagers, especially Aloe Vera.

The purpose of planting trees is to ensure that every girl child is financially secure and for this the villagers contribute 21,000 collectively and take 10,000 from the parents to put it in a fixed deposit which gets matured when the girl turns 20. Besides making the girl financially stable the villagers also make sure that the girl receives proper education and is not married off before they attain adulthood. Apart from conserving environment and empowering women the village has another feather on its cap, it is reported that in the last 7-8 years there has been no police case. The Piplantri village truly stands as an example of Ecofeminism that must be emulated.

Navdanya’s Diverse Women for Diversity

Navdanya is a leading NGO established by Vandana Shiva for advocating biodiversity conservation through a large network of seed keepers and organic producers. It has created a women-centered movement for protecting biological and cultural diversity. Navdanya has helped set up 54 community seed banks and the largest direct marketing, fair trade organic network in the country.

Diverse Women for Diversity is a gender program of Navdanya, which was founded as a global campaign of women on biodiversity, and food security. Over the years, it has evolved into a non-violent resistance to globalization, genetic engineering and patents on life forms. At the national level, Diverse Women for Diversity works as the National Alliance of Women’s Food Rights, while at the local level, it works as Mahila Anna Swaraj (food sovereignty for women).

12-year old creates innovative shower to save water

Shrusti Nerkar is a 12-year young student studying in Rachna Vidyalaya in Nashik, Maharashtra. She once along with her father went for car washing, where she was astonished to know that the whole car can be washed in just 2 liters of water. She confirmed the idea with her father who is a professor of electronics in the government polytechnic college. After this she was inspired to create a special shower and soon started experimenting with electric wire pipes and PVC pipes.

Once she was sure about the model, she finally made it by foldable pipes. Shrusti claims that the shower uses only 15 liters of water for one person as against the 80 liters that is usually used. Hence saving 65 liters of water, per shower. Currently, she has applied for a patent for her water-saving shower innovation.

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