The flame lit by ‘Krantijyoti’ Savitribai Phule has been kept burning by a women’s volunteer organization in Pune, the very city in which India’s social revolution was launched. In an ordinary flat on Agrasen High School Road in the Yerwada area, the organization appropriately named Krantijyoti is taking forward the legacy of Savitribai Phule.
What’s so special about this organization is that women who run it all come from the Dalitbahujan communities and are trained and organized in carrying on the fight to live with dignity. The women believe that whether it is in a village or a city, women are highly discriminated against. Inspired by the freedom women had in the movements led by Dalibahujan icons Jotiba Phule and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar these women are moving ahead with a sense of keeping their legacy alive. They say that in the Indian Constitution everyone has been given equal rights irrespective of caste, creed, class and gender. However, in social life the advocates of the hierarchy-based order continue to deprive women of their rights, and because of this women are forced to be always dependent on others and be forever demoralized.
To help women come out of this demoralized state, a young woman, Archana, who was born and brought up in Yashoda Nagar in Amravati district of northeast Maharashtra, got together with a few local women and laid the foundation of an organization called Krantijyoti (The Light of Revolution). Archana is the coordinator of the organization, whose priority is to make women self-confident and fearless. It is because if women gain self-confidence, they will be able to identify the problems plaguing themselves, their families and the community and will also initiate efforts in finding solutions.
Women come to the Krantijyoti office to get training. Archana says that Krantijyoti’s basic objective is to promote the ideas of Jotiba and Savitribai Phule and thus inculcate in women the sense and desire of being educated and fulfilling their social responsibilities. She says that after her marriage in 2010, she borrowed some money and rented this house to fulfil her objective. Today, she has registered the organization as a trust and is working towards empowering women and making them literate and fearless, besides turning them – and herself – into able leaders.
Krantijyoti organized CLTP, a community-level leadership development programme. Because of this leadership-development programme, many Bahujan women have been empowered to solve their own problems. Besides, they have also begun to turn their attention to the problems faced by their settlements or communities. Many of these women, who had barely stepped outside their house and lacked the confidence to even say their names, are now discussing their problems at various platforms quite candidly and also taking steps to solve them.
Krantijyoti is also determined to help women find employment. Women associated with this organization are being trained in entrepreneurial development and are becoming self-dependent. Krantijyoti has eight full-time workers and there are more than 40 volunteers serving with the organization. Not only that, there is a strong network of more than 600 women. Thus we can say that Krantijyoti is truly giving wings to Savitribai Phule’s dream of uplifting the status of women.
There are diverse departments to empower women. Krantijyoti Study and Training Centre (KSTC) and Ramai Business Training Centre (RBTC) are two prominent programmes. There is also a Krantijyoti Vichar Manch (Krantijyoti Ideas Forum) through which dialogue is initiated with women outside the network. The manch regularly runs awareness programmes through discussion sessions, competitions, camps and workshops. Not only that, the organization promotes education through a Krantijyoti Scholarship Scheme for girl students from Class VII to IX. It does so by holding a scholarship exam, after which nine girls are given scholarships of Rs 2,000 each.
Archana had also started a weekly magazine for the social, intellectual, educational, financial, health and personality development of Krantijyoti women but it had to be closed down after 16 issues due to financial difficulties. Even today, despite plenty of hardships, Krantijyoti is spreading the light of revolution among women and taking forward the legacy of Savitribai Phule’s social work.
Published in the January 2014 issue of the FORWARD Press magazine
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