She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
When Nirmala (born 1959) began work with women at the village level, she had to find ways to dodge her family so that she could attend school. Today, Nirmala is a strong campaigner for women’s rights, and an active member of women’s courts. A seasoned arbitrator, Nirmala is adept at sorting out issues amicably, steering both parties away from the police court rigmarole. She has also brought about a revolution in the way midwives operate in the region: they display a high level of professionalism and attention to hygiene. Wheatish complexion, slightly plump and always quick with a smile – that’s Nirmala. Born in 1959, she hails from the Raidas community. After her marriage, Nirmala moved to the village Vishwanath, where she lives today with her husband and three daughters, two sons, and their wives. The family’s sustenance is from agriculture … Nirmala’s husband would question her about where she was going and what she was doing: “What do you get for the work you’re doing?” and “Where do you stay at night when you are out on work?” …
Sorry, no downloadable photo found for Nirmala in the endless India.
She works for Mahila Samakhya (Department of School Education and Literacy, Gov. of India).
… But Nirmala was determined to continue. With a colleague’s help, she managed to attend Mahila Samakhya meetings, enroll in the Women’s Education Center, and pass Class V.
Nirmala attends cluster meetings of the women’s group regularly now, laughing off her husband and his family’s jibes, and does not let them interfere with her work or dispirit her. She is well-known at the village and block level as a strong campaigner for women’s rights.
An active member of the women’s courts, she has a knack for solving tricky questions amicably. She listens to both sides of a matter, and then judges matters objectively. However, she is particularly alert to instances of discrimination against women, and invariably stands up for their rights.
In one case that she helped resolve, a woman had gone back to her parents’ home, unable to handle the daily domestic fights. Her parents approached the women’s court to help resolve the issue. The woman’s in-laws were powerful people, and responded negatively. When the women’s court requested them to be present at a hearing for the third time, the husband’s relatives turned up drunk. The court refused to discuss the matter with them, and called for the husband.
He turned up with some alacrity, both parties met face-to-face, and matters were resolved. The two now live amiably with the husband’s family.
Nirmala is also remarkably progressive in her outlook on women’s rights. In a neighboring village, a girl continued to live with her parents after marriage. When her parents finally approached the women’s court and asked them to resolve the matter, the court spoke to the girl, who told them that her husband was many years older, and was epileptic. She stolidly refused to go back: Nirmala spoke to her in-laws and managed to get her a divorce. Today, the girl is a schoolteacher, has remarried, and is happy.
Nirmala’s attempt is always to sort out all issues through mutual consent. Whenever a dispute arises, she believes, it ought to be solved in the village at the women’s group. This ensures that neither party gets mired in the unending police-court rigmarole, wasting both time and money. However, in cases where either party is uncooperative, she bounces them to the police and the courts.
Nirmala has also trained to be a midwife, which helps her in matters of women’s health, hygiene, and childcare. She is largely responsible for the high level of professionalism and attention to hygiene – especially in cutting and tying the umbilical cord – which midwives in the region today display. This attention to basics has also helped bring to the forefront the issues of women and reproductive health.
At the village-level meetings of the women’s group, Nirmala is at the forefront, calling for a change in anti-women practices. From struggling to work outside the home to becoming the pivot of awareness generation about women’s issues in her area of work, Nirmala’s footing is sure and nimble. (1000peacewomen).
Sorry, but without a second name it is impossible to disinguish, if any text is found with Google in big India, corresponding to our peacewomen.
MAHILA SAMAKHYA PROGRAMME: Genesis, 5 pdf-pages;
Mahila Samakhya stages protest (the Hindu, Dec 11, 2008);
Mahila Samakhya seeks separate women courts (the Hindu, Sep 18, 2008);
Empowering Education: the Mahila Samakhya experience, 16 pages in word;
Mahila Samakhya Expansion Programme gets approval from EACC, April 11, 2008.