The village of Hasarni has been under PIRD programmes for the last fifteen years and numerous programmes
for women have been undertaken. Women from this village also come to Ahmadpur for other programmes. Thus I, was sure that
a Savings Group would be established in this village. As usual when we went to the village it was declared that the meeting
on that day was for establishing a Savings Group.
The moment a mention was made of "Savings Group" one of the women said " madam, talk about anything else
other than Savings Group. One of the villagers took money from us on the pretext of forming a Savings Group and deceived us"
After listening to all I said that the money collected would be put in a bank. Women from your Group will go to the bank and
they will purchase any material required to open an account like rubber stamps, register, etc. Money will not be given to
any individual. I also told them about the advantages of forming a Savings Group The women were convinced and agreed to form
a Group. I felt happy that the meeting was successful.
The next day one of the women. Chyayabai came to our office and said that the village women were reluctant
to form a Savings Group. I was surprised because only the day before they had agreed. I went to the village again and found
that the men had advised the women not to form a group as there would be no benefits and the women would have to go to Ahmadpur
again and again. I then called a few men and women and again explained the advantages of the scheme. They then agreed. A Savings
Group made up of thirteen women was formed and an account opened at the Bank of Maharashtra, Ahmadpur. All went well for a
month. Then 7 out of the 13 women wanted to opt out of the Group. Again a meeting was held to find out the reason. The men
had again opposed the idea fearing that if the women went out of the home for Saving Groups work, the house hold work would
suffer. They said " ---Gojamebai--- had no work and was making the women leave their homes ".I was perplexed. Then my colleague
Mangala said that I should take a firmer attitude. I should not plead with anyone to join the group and wait for the women
to come to me. I accordingly told the women that there was no compulsion and that let the group function for six months.
I kept going to the village as usual. After two months other women started attending the meeting. We told
them to attend the meetings even though they were not joining the Savings Group. In the meanwhile the head of PIRD, who is
my husband, asked how the Hasarni Group was broken and that we were not able to organise it properly. I told him that it is
not easy to form a group, it requires a lot of time. My husband was not satisfied and said we were not able to form a group
even with so much time. He may have his reasons but I felt that it was no use forming a group in a hurry only to see it close
down. The Group functioned well for six months. Women kept meeting me and visit the bank and the Tehsil office. I kept on
encouraging them to do so without fear.
After six months Sangeeta Sudhakar Tidole, Bharatbai Trimukh gaikwad and Bhagiratha Gahinaji Gaikwad came
to the office and said that they wanted to join the Group, that remaining out side was their mistake. I said that the decision
to take them back was not in my hands but will be taken by the Group members. They held a meeting in the village and they
were readmitted in the Group. They started attending the meetings and paid no attention to the snide remarks made by others.
The Group is now nine months old.
After one month Nirmalabi joined the group after she was cleared to do so by the Group members. Now a group
of ten women has been functioning smoothly. I also felt happy at taking the meetings. We discussed many subjects such as the
importance of the members, their status, the co-operation given by others in the household, etc. I told then that the Savings
Group was not only to get credit but also formed a pressure group in the village.
Once, members of the group and other village women came to Ahmadpur for a gathering. There they heard me
speak and sing with great enthusiasm and force. My song made them aware of the facts of life. Women work day and night but
do not have even a small piece of land in their name. The utensils they cook in, the house that they look after, nothing belongs
to them. They do not have any decision-making role in the house. After the meeting, Ratnabai Tridole was late returning home.
Her mother in law was angry because on that day the entire house holds work had to be done by her. They had a bitter fight.
When the husband returned home his mother told him about Rattans late coming and the husband also shouted at her. Ratnabi
kept quiet for two days. She felt that it would be humiliating to leave the group and her job as the secretary. After two
days she spoke to her mother in law. She requested her not to shout at her or get her son to fight with her. She said that
if this happened she would not have any interest left in the house. Ratnabai told the mother in law that she was unaware of
what was happening in the outside world. Ushabai in her song showed us how nothing belongs to us women and we unnecessarily
fighting amongst ourselves. She requested her mother in law to start attending the meetings and see for her the work that
was being done. Her ignorance was also because she was not allowed to go out of the house. The mother in law was stunned to
hear this and felt that the daughter in law was saying something strange. So she also started to attend the meeting to hear
what the women were discussing. During my next visit to the village Ratnabai told me what had transpired. I sat taking with
the mother in law and made her aware of what was happening, The husband continued to get angry on Ratnabai. He told her "
Mother your were against the Savings Group, now you are taking her side ". The mother told her son " You are not to get angry
when she leaves the house. She is doing good work". The son kept mum after listening to his mother. He was told not to come
in between the two women.
Today, the mother in law helps Ratnabai in her work. If someone asks her about the group, she gives all information
and fully co-operates with the Group. Ratna is now happy because the husband does not quarrel anymore and the work of the
Group has also increased. The Groups turnover is nearly ten thousand rupees and the Institute has given a loan of Rs. Forty
thousand. Thus the Group is on a solid footing. No one now goes to the moneylender for a loan. The group is running well for
the past three years.
The Group has also taken part in other public issue such as taking attendance at school and distribution
of sweets. When there is a power failure the women go to take up the matter with the sarpanch. They support any agitation
held in any other village. The work of the Group is being conducted with unity. Kashibai Maruti Gaund, the President of the
Group proudly states that the Savings Group will never close even till her death.
Usha Gojame , PIRD ,Ahmedpur
Dist: Latur 413515 (INDIA)