Rangoli: An initiative to empower the women of rural Bihar

Although ‘Women Empowerment’ is one of the major topics of discussion in today’s so-called “progressive society”, we come across a lot of incidents where women are humiliated and looked down upon. Time and again, this male-dominated society tries to cut her wings before she can take her flight. However, initiatives like this one, re-establishes our faith in this phenomenon called ‘Women Empowerment”.

‘Rangoli’ is an initiative, by the Drishti Foundation which helps in the setting up of ‘All women-multi purpose shops’, in Bihar’s Madhubani district, owned and run by women, with the aim of empowering women by making them financially independent.

Captioned as, ‘Rangoli: Mahilaao ki satrangi duniyaa’, these unique outlets have everything a woman needs, from a hairpin to a dress material. Some other items available here are talcum powders, undergarments, hair oils,   bangles, sanitary napkins, etc.

38-year-old Bhawna Jha, who owns and runs one such shop in  Saurath village of Madhubani District in Bihar told Hindustan Times: “It has changed my life. Now, I earn Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 a month.”

“Considering the practical difficulties faced by women, we planned to open an all-women shop in every village. Later, we may also try to manufacture locally sanitary pads, etc. They will be much cheaper and will also generate employment for rural women,”Anjani Kumar Jha, Coordinator of Drishtee foundation said.

“Earlier, women had to cover more than two kilometers and visit Madhubani or Rahika market for shopping. Now they get commodities of choice at Saurath itself,” said Bipin Bihari Jha, another member of Drishtee Foundation.

The foundation is, however, against the idea of setting up more than one such shop in a village because it may lead to competition and rivalry among villagers.

The first Rangoli outlet was set up in Saurath village in 2012. Since then, such shops have opened it 28 other villages, namely  Pakhrauni, Bakhari Tol, Dumra, Kapileshwar, Dhanga Loha and more.

The Ngo does not provide the rural women with initial seed money. Rather, they help set up the shop by providing them shelves and various women-related products. Approximately, an amount of Rs. 25,000 is invested in setting up of one such shop. The women running these shops are required to refund the money to the NGO within two years while continuing to enjoy revolving credit facility.

Featured Image: Hindustan Times

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