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Saturday, December 20, 2014

"I hit her, because she was late for lunch"----Visiting NISHTHA villages in West Bengal #4

During our visit to YGB's "Sister Aid" micro loan recipient mothers in rural villages in West Bengal, we bumped into one recipient yelling something outside of her mud house. First, we did not understand what was going on. Our partner NISHTHA social worker immediately jumped in and she also started arguing with a man standing in front of the house. Our translator explained that this poor woman just like any other women in this region, prepared breakfast, cleaned the house and went to the field to help her husband's work on their Guava field this morning. As she was so busy with her labor, she got a little delayed to return home to prepare their lunch. Tired and hungry, her husband lost patience and hit her on her right cheek, when she returned home, yelling at her. Obviously, this poor wife got very upset about this incident, which apparently has been going on for sometime. She is YGB's micro loan recipient who also put her loan as an investment to help grow her husband's Guava business together. And this was what she got!!

Unfortunately, this is a reality these rural women have to live with on a daily basis. Gender discrimination remains deep rooted in this region, starting with female infanticide. Census 2011 shows decline of girl population in India under the age of seven, with some estimating that eight million female fetuses may have been aborted in the past decade. When it comes to education, women's literacy in India is 65%, compared to men's literacy of 82%. Child marriage, child labor, rape, and domestic violence continue to threaten women's lives into adulthood. When poor women grow old, there is very little care for them and I witness this all the time in these villages. Older women never wear colorful saris, but rather cover themselves with completely ragged clothes only. It is against this sever reality, that I am truly inspired and proud to share with you how YGB's programs are making a real positive impact on these women's lives.

YGB micro loan recipients form a group or 10-20 women in eighteen villages. These groups have become not only a support platform for their new income earning businesses, but very important social support structure where women are free to discuss their domestic issues and get mutual support. I was happy to learn how NISHTHA social workers guide discussion such as domestic violence with these groups once a month.  YGB is the only organization in this region who is investing in women's empowerment with NISHTHA and it is truly an empowering experience to witness how YGB's global community's support is uplifting so many women's lives here. Micro loans do not only give women means to earn income, but more importantly seed fundamental sense of self-worth and dignity in them.

NISHTHA social worker and YGB fund recipients group "Shkti Prava" discussing Domestic Violence

Aparna Mondal is a mother of two daughters, who is also a victim of domestic violence. She energetically told me, "If any husband of our group abuses his wife, we go to him as a group and tell him that if he continues such behavior, we will take appropriate measures. We are not silent any more! I do not want my daughters live like me."

"NARI SHAKTI!!"(Women's Power)--Group's determination is echoed in the village after the meeting


  1. Great work, Kayoko. One step at a time, you are making a real difference in these lives.

  2. Thank you, it is really inspiring to see how YGB's support is making a difference there, thanks to all the supporters like you!!!