Janaki – India

Linked with Mahila Samakhya, all India (Gov), and with Mahila Samakhya in Uttar Pradesh.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Janaki (born 1954) is a symbol of power and possibilities for the women in her village. When she started, it was unusual for a woman to engage in developmental work, and she had to face bellicose opposition from her family. Janaki, though, is a determined, remarkably fearless woman: she continued with her mobilization of women, eventually forming a village self-help group. The work done by the group has helped establish its credibility and, today, most disputes in the village are settled in the group’s women’s court … (1000peacewomen 1/2).

Janaki has proved that the capacity to bring about social change is not linked to one’s educational or other qualifications.


Janaki (Sorry, the photo on 1000peacewomen – showing a small women almost from behind, is not downloadable)

She works for Mahila Samakhya, and for the Women’s self-help group SHG.

Janaki was born in 1954 in the village Ahirwali Tola Barbasaha to farmer parents. Her association with the Mahila Samakhya opened a whole new world of perceptions: the concepts of women’s rights and social development excited and moved the illiterate young woman, who was by then the mother of three boys and a girl.

Janaki first began applying these ideas in her own home, ensuring that all her children, including her daughter, attended school. Later, she was to marry one of her sons to a girl from a poor family with no dowry. Her daughter-in-law goes to school and is in grade VI.

When Janaki started, it was unusual for women to engage in developmental work and awareness generation activities. Janaki’s husband, a physically abusive man, was strongly opposed to her work. Over time, Janaki gathered the courage to resist him, not only preventing him from abusing her, but also exhorting all other women in the village to resist physical violence by their husbands.

Janaki initially began work as a Sakhi (friend). She went on to set up a women’s village self-help group (SHG). The good work that Janaki and her group have done has established their credentials: most disputes in the area now arrive at the SHG’s women’s court for resolution.

Although Janaki is a member of the Mahila Samakhya’s women’s court, she still believes in direct intervention and immediate action along with her women colleagues. Whether it is an issue of grabbing a Dalit’s or a woman’s land, they ensure that justice is delivered precisely and immediately. Sometimes, a little intimidation surely can’t hurt.

An example: during a dispute between two Scheduled Caste families, the more powerful family built a wall on the road, blocking the route to the other’s house. For the tenure of three gram panchayat heads, the dispute remained unresolved. Nor were the police able to help Bhola, the wronged man.

Ultimately, Bhola approached Janaki’s SHG, and when she and her colleagues tried to talk to the other party in the dispute, they were threatened. So, the illegal wall came down, and another secured Bhola’s house.

Janaki is a determined, remarkably fearless woman, singleminded in her pursuit of justice and incapable of intimidation by the many powerful people – including police officials – that she has clashed with over the years. Police functionaries tend to take bribes and harass women in the SHG.
None of this fazed Janaki. She has proved that the capacity for social change is not linked to educational or other qualifications: to the women in her village, she is a symbol of power – and possibilities. (1000peacewomen 2/2).

Sorry, there are thousands of Janaki in the internet. It is not possible to know which of these articles speak about our peacewomen. There should be given at least a second, a family name. It is a shame to present the merits of a small women with so few items (photo, name, which province/state? … Just a Janaki in big India … in the belief of these people women have still to be NOTHING) … in any way here the few we have the right to know about her).


Research Summary about Self Help Groups SHG, May 2008;

Google download book: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, 2006, 273 pages.

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