Phoolbasan Bai Yadav is a prominent name in rural Chhattisgarh. She has been tirelessly working in empowering women and assuring their financial freedom. She plays a crucial role in improving the living conditions of the women in the village.
Well known for her remarkable work, this school dropout has done in the area of women empowerment and child rights, one can only get motivated by her story. Phoolbasan Bai was born in 1969, on the 5th of December, in an isolated village in the district of Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh.
When she was 10 years old, she was pushed into child marriage. Her husband was a cattle herder. The couple had to live their life in poverty as they both were illiterate and lack of employment opportunities. But nothing disheartened her, and the tough the consequences filled in her a desire to do more.
Phoolbasan bai was committed to empowering a better life for herself and her family. She began to take part in the training of the self-help groups in her region. These groups are regarded by the administration as a centre to women empowerment. In her village, the group was made to collect money to help women join in a cattle rearing method.
Very quickly, Phoolbasan trained herself to grasp the benefits of participating in such a committee. Further more, she decided to form her groups. She named them ‘Pragya Mahila Samooh’, ‘Bazar Theka.’& ‘Kiraya Bhandar’ This captioned the onset of Phoolbasan’s entry into social work. Moreover she got on to install a fair-price ration shop for underprivileged.
Phoolbasan bai Yadav not only made herself independent but also strengthened her multiple groups. For all her social activities she made an umbrella NGO with 11 members and called it Maan Bamleshwari Janhit Kare Samiti, named after Goddess Durga,
The NGO acts as a caretaker and serves as a supervise the working of various government departments. It is believed that nearly 19,000 women self-help groups (WSHG) and 2325 young girls’ groups have over 200,000 members registered with it. The NGO generates funds by collecting Rs. 2 per member/week. It was initially able to collect a remarkable fund of Rs. 150 million. The NGO, under its banner, have played a significant part in empowering women and guaranteeing them financial independence. The organisation also improves the living conditions of the citizens in the village.
Even health and sanitation programmes like the Pulse Polio initiative is taken up by this group. There are about more than 70% of its members in the local Panchayat Health Initiative as Mitanni. The group have implemented the mid-day meal scheme in nearly 1800 primary schools, and are also creating awareness nutritional drive in schools and thousands of Anganwadi. This NGO had also fought against social taboos. It helps in saving girl child from child marriages. To serve for a social cause they even organise group marriages of underprivileged girls. This all was possible under the great leadership of Phoolbasan.
Active Role in building nation
From September 2014, Phoolbasan’s NGO adopted 24 villages and then was made open defecation free villages. It was done without any help from the central or state government. Her target is to make her district ODF by December 2016.
But throughout all the purpose and work, Phoolbasan bai Yadav’s main inspiration goes on with the motto of empowering women.
If one goes by data this victim of child marriage and class 7 drop out, village women have achieved the impossible. In the past 20 years, around 2 lakh women from rural areas, from 12,143 WSHGs, have together saved more than Rs.25 crores through their small savings. Her NGO received a whopping 900 crore additional funds from NABARD to be used for self-employment of women in her district of Rajnandgaon.
Awards and Accolades
She first won the state award called Maa Bamleshwari Award, for her ‘Save the Water’ campaign. Then in 2005, Government bestowed upon her the ‘Mini Mata Samman’, that included a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.
She was given the National Award for Best Performance, by NABARD, for three years in a row.
The central recognition came in 2012 when she was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award. Apart from the above-mentioned awards she had been conferred with the Jamnalal Bajaj Award, S.R. Jindal Award, Bhagwan Mahaveer Award, Life Time Achievement Award, India Pride Award, Surdutta Award, Aamodini Award, in the category for Development and Welfare of Women and Children.