Prabha Yadav lives in Satara district and has done Masters in Social Work. Since 2006, she has been associated with Dr Ambedkar Sheti Vikas Va Sanshodhan Sanstha (ASVSS). She has trained over 10,000 women as Changemakers under the ‘violence against women’ campaign.
Drought in the Sangla block, Solapur district, implied a lack of fodder and water for small animals like goats. Small farmers and labourers used to sell their goats at a low price to maintain their livelihood. There was no government provision either. So, we advocated for Cattle Camps for small animals, their fodder and water facility in Dongargaon. We also got help from the media.
We started out in March 2019 with organizations like S.M. Joshi Samajwadi Prabodhini and Casa and Action Aid. On 31 May 2019. G.R was released that whenever famine will hit eight drought-affected districts in Maharashtra (Solapur, Satara, Sangli, Usmanabad, Beed, Jagaav, Pune and Ahmednagar), cattle camps will be organized there. This successful advocacy is a part of our achievements.
Moreover, to increase employment at the local level and to discourage migration, we are trying to build leadership skills, knowledge, and vision of 120 Dalit women regarding ‘collective goat rearing’.
We are also considering experimental ways to turn the Watan land more fertile and use it for communal progress.
In the 1990s, the Britishers gave land to the Mahar (SC) and Ramoshi (DNT) communities, which is called Watan land. Those who used to do the cleaning work, or were watchmen, were given this land in exchange for their labour. Watan land, however, was officially in the name of the village as a whole.
That is, on the land documents, the titles were ‘समस्त गाँव कामगार महार’ and ‘समस्त गाँव कामगार रामोशी’, instead of names of the people. Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar raised the demand that the land be registered in individuals’ names. Then in 1958, the Watan Abolish Act came into motion, and the land started to be in officially assigned in the name of the people.
With the assistance of ASVSS, people started getting the land in their names. The government still has ownership over 1,00,000 land, out of 5,28,000 Watan land. We have been struggling to get that land back. The land documents used caste surnames of people and with the assistance of ASVSS, caste surnames were removed and people’s own surnames were put in the records. After that, the land-holders also started getting the benefit of the ‘special component scheme’.
Labour and Gender Sensitization
I have researched on several social issues. One research project I was a part of was done on women’s unpaid labor. We found that women do the unpaid work at home and outside. Even if they cultivate the land, they do not get equal compensation and the status of a farmer.
The pressure of every household work falls only on women. Women multitask for 16 hours. We found a solution that the work should be divided and everyone’s work, especially the work of women, should be acknowledged.
Women work on three levels: caring, bringing water and cooking (energy). We strategised a 3-hour time division for all three levels to recognize and divide the work of women.
Housework should be done by all people. That is, why we are running this campaign called ‘housework, everyone’s work’ and we are promoting and spreading it in through every program we can.
Due to our project, on 1 May 2017, on the occasion of Workers’ Day, Doordarshan channel discussed constitutional values, women’s visions, and their equality.
Asked for food, got lunched
Some people from the Semi-Nomadic Tribe had gone to Dhule village (from Mangalvedha to Rainpada village) to beg for money and to find work.
It is believed that these people steal children. Due to this stereotype and misunderstanding, these people were taken to the office of Rainpada Gram Panchayat office and were hit by sticks so much that five people died there itself.
When we read in the paper about them, we took action because those people were from Mangalvedha, Sholapur district.
We told the families of the deceased to not take the dead bodies until our demands were met. We asked for 10 lakh instead of 5 lakh for every affected family. Second, we demanded that these people should be given homes. If they had a house, they would not wander. So, they also got houses.
We also wanted to provide employment to these people but could not succeed because the surviving family members were not educated. Most of them are superstitious. Had they been educated, they would have gotten work by now.
We need to work on diluting their superstitions, have to encourage them to get educated, and find any local work for them because this is a drought-prone area and no work is easily found.
These people are landless and the government is not giving them any land either. We also advised the government in 2018 that the area for grazing area, which is now dry, can be allotted to them. Our proposal was accepted but the Forest Officers intend to conserve the land. Plus, people who have land, are not qualified to take bank loans for farming.
Devadasi women are offered to God, which is a superstition and Dalit women make up a large portion of this demographic.
We did research in Sholapur and Kohlpur and found that when Devadasi women get a chance to study, they leave the Devadasi work.
It is believed that the Devadasi woman is married to God. The procession of this marriage is also taken out. But these women also face physical violence. People from the Patil, Deshmukh, and Zamindar communities of the village consider these women as property.
If there is a marriage anywhere, Devadasi women are called to dance and sing for one night, for which they are paid money and get some oil and flour.
One day of the week, such as on Tuesday, Devadasi women wear a special necklace around their neck, which is white and red in colour and is made of half a conch that is found in the sea. Seeing this necklace, people understand that this woman is a Devadasi.
District Solapur has two sisters whose mother is Devadasi. Both sisters studied up to ninth grade. Their mother did not want her girls to be Devadasi. It is believed that if the mother is a Devadasi, then her girls will also become Devadasis. It is considered part of the tradition.
One of the two sisters is the owner of the Ramoshi Watan land and her leadership skills are emerging further.
When I involved her in interventions and different programs, both sisters thought that they would complete their studies further. They passed the tenth standard with the support of ASVSS. And then completed the 6 -month ‘Bed Side Assistant’ course. Both sisters currently work in the ICU of a hospital.
The two sisters did not become a part of the Devdasi tradition at all and today they are both married and the son of one of them is also studying science and wants to excel like his mother.