ROURKELA: From earning economic stability to conquering new frontiers earlier thought to be male domains, members of the women self help groups (WSHG) are treading new territories with ease in both urban and rural pockets of tribal-dominated Sundargarh district.Be it management of sanitation services, Micro Composting Centres (MCCs) or paddy procurement, WSHGs are increasingly proving their mettle in new territories which were till recently either considered unfit for women or carried social taboo.
A case in point is 50-year-old Ranju Singh, member of the Jagat Janani SHG. Ranju was appointed Swachh Supervisor (SS) by the Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) three years back with monthly remuneration of Rs 8,000. Her job responsibilities include supervision of cleanliness of Ward 18 at Basanti Colony here, addressing public grievances related to sanitation, monitor segregation and lifting of garbage among other things. A graduate, Ranju through her leadership, time management and micro managerial abilities is successfully balancing triple responsibilities of sanitation, running her own beauty parlour and family chores. Ranju said, when the offer for SS came she readily accepted it as it involved ways to serve the society.
In Rourkela, work scope for WSHGs have significantly expanded in recent years. While 94 women Swachha Sathis and 25 Swachh Supervisors of RMC are involved in micro management of public sanitation, multiple WSHGs are handling operation and management of community toilets, MCCs to prepare manures from organic wastes, management of faecal sludge treatment plant, running of Aahar Centres and canteen of the Rourkela Government Hospital and management of parks to name a few.
Their rural counterparts are second to none. Recently, eight rural WSHGs in as many blocks including Balishankara, Lefripada, Bargaon, Kuarnmunda, Lathikata, Gurundia and Lahunipada, successfully completed a pilot initiative of paddy procurement. They together have procured about 1.08 lakh quintal paddy from 1,926 farmers this kharif marketing season.
Administrative sources said the district paddy procurement committee had decided to involve WSHGs in paddy procurement on experiment to make the process effective and also ensure livelihood options for the rural women. Bouyed at the outcome, the Project Director of District Rural Development Agency Bhairav Singh Patel said they hope to involve 50 WSHGs during the next procurement cycle.