By Neha Kirpal
India’s mountain women may not have access to opportunities like their counterparts in urban cities, but they have a similar drive or passion to work, to monetise their traditional skills and make a living. To address this need, a non-profit organisation, Giri Foundation, announced the launch of its India chapter this week at an event in Delhi.
By providing the right skills, micro finance and sustainable, revenue-generating work or entrepreneurial opportunities, Giri Foundation is tying up with global brands who would like access to local handicraft, textile or data entry / classification services from India’s mountain women.
Headed by US-based Megha B Purohit, the NGO’s aim is to create one million jobs by 2025 for the women of India’s Himalayan region, and its vision is to extend India’s mission of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao to include Beti Kamao, by uplifting women from being second-class to first-class citizens of the world.
Born and raised in the footsteps of the Himalayan Valley of the Vaishno Devi temple in Katra, Megha said, “The woman of the hills is ahead of second class pseudo notions, always challenging the gender quotient. She is much braver than she believes, for she is the daughter of the mountains, and just as serene. Her inner fire forged her talent, spanning generations, ameliorating entire civilisations.”
The keynote address at the launch event held at Bikaner House was given by actor and producer Vani Tripathi Tikoo, who was the former national secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party and is currently a Board Member of the Central Board of Film Certification. Sharing the story of her mother, she spoke about the feisty women of the hills of Uttarakhand and their never-give-up spirit.
Her speech was followed by a message from the hills of Jammu & Kashmir by social worker and co-founder of the Centre for Equity and Inclusion (CEQUIN), Sara Abdullah Pilot.
Though there has been a significant improvement in female education during the past two decades, India has seen a downfall in women’s participation in the labour force, more so in rural and remote areas.
Not having the right skills, financial independence and opportunities to work from home during the pandemic is further hampering women’s role in the workforce.
This and other topics related to women’s financial and social emancipation came up in the roundtable discussion, chaired by eShe’s founder and editor, Aekta Kapoor.
Panelists included Pinky Pradhan, director communications and strategic partnership, Plan India; Rachna Sharma, thought leader, author, speaker, philanthropist and co-chair of the Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs (India Chapter); and Rani Sudarshana Kumari of Bushahr, an art connoisseur, digital illustrator and photographer who is working to preserve the craft and textile heritage of the women in the hills of Himachal Pradesh.
Other attendees included actor Shivani Wazir Pasrich; exponent of Rajasthan’s ghoomar folk dance and Rajput customs Tripti Singh; and founder of Royal Fables exposition and Nari Shakti awardee Anshu Khanna.