WOMEN EMPOWERMENT – FOR BETTERMENT OF SOCIETY
The Karnah tehsil is remotely located along the line of control. The only connectivity with the main valley is through NC Pass which remains intermittently closed during winters. Due to the remote location, proximity to Line of Control and vagaries of weather, Karnah tehsil remains on the low priority of the district administration. Besides, due to prevailing gender disparity it remains a male dominated society. The women in the rural areas have limited access to education, with female dropout rate at 56 percent. Kashmiri society continues to be entrenched in a deeply-rooted patriarchal system of gender hierarchy, especially in rural areas that seek to limit women further. Women are forced to remain under the shadow of the men in their households, their initiatives of becoming independent are arrested and their opportunities to develop their individual personality are curbed.
Nevertheless, as it is said ‘things change for the good’, youth from Karnah tehsil especially young girls and women have started realising their capabilities and wish to explore the world outside Karnah tehsil. This is possible only through motivation, guidance and necessary logistical support. The COVID lockdown turned into an opportunity for these young enthusiastic women. Local DDC member Advocate Najma Hamid took initiative in coordination with local security forces to provide opportunity to the young and talented local girls. Numbers of initiatives were implemented for providing a platform and exposure to these young girls in Karnah valley which included training of Aarogya Sevikas, participation in Cycle Expedition and Girls Badminton league.
Initial group of three ladies were trained as ‘Aarogya Sevikas’ in basic nursing and medical care in year 2020 by the Army doctors to act as first responder to casualties in their locality. This group of ladies were of great help to the community especially during periods of Lockdown. With this humble beginning, another step was taken to train volunteers on topics of current importance; COVID-19 the on-going pandemic prevention and control and drug-de-addiction. The training imparted to five Aarogya Sevikas boosted their morale and confidence. Being as the Sevikas were locals, there was absolutely no communication gap hence the locals could assimilate the ideas converted by these inspiring Sevikas. Nearly a population of 1000 locals were addressed by the Aarogya Sevikas during the first stage of the campaign which is phenomenal to begin with. The forums were org via the village sarpanches wherein the main participation came from women and children. The trained volunteers spread awareness on topics to the population and enlightened them about importance of their role. They stood as a role model & inspiration for rest of the women population. In the second stage of the campaign, nine women have been trained on Polio vaccination, Hygiene sanitation, fire safety, COVID-19 and first aid.
The local DDC and BDC members met these Aarogya Sevikas and complemented them for their work towards social cause. The initiative was well appreciated by the opinion makers. All forums in villages were organised by respective Sarpanches. A cycle expedition (Ride Kashmir) was organised on 12 September 2021 from Baramulla to Kaman Aman Setu covering a distance 65 kilometers exclusively for ladies/ girls to commemorate 75 years of Indian Independence. Three young girls led by Urfana Muneer from Karnah valley participated in the event and completed it successfully. The girls were highly enthusiastic and motivated to participate in the event as they have not been part of such event before. Representing Karnah in such an event is indeed an accomplishment in itself for the locals of Karnah along with security forces helping participation, transport of these girls for the event. The girls were awarded prizes by the chief guest, actor and model Mr Milind Soman. Participation of these girls will indeed motivate other girls to come ahead, participate and represent Karnah valley on bigger platforms in time ahead.
Girls Badminton League, Karnah was organised to encourage local girls to participate in sports. A large number of girls participated in the competition. The girls participated with full zeal and enthusiasm since it was the first badminton tournament being held exclusively for them after a long time. The teachers and parents appreciated the initiative as it gave an opportunity to girls to show case their talent who were struck in their homes due to Covid-19 pandemic. Large number of locals turned up to witness the Badminton league.
Women Empowerment is all about empowering the girls/ women to perform equally if not better than their male counterpart. What they require is an opportunity and platform to show case their skills and talent. The events that have been organised in Karnah valley would go a long way in achieving these goals in the times to come. The joint effort of locals, politicians and security forces would immensely benefit the girls and women folk in their empowerment.