Bengal’s women of light

By Matters India Reporter

Kolkata: Until the other day these women were just ordinary village girls or housewives of “bhodro” (respectful) Bengali or Santali families, but today they are ‘women of light.’

A group of village women is able to earn their living and prove their worth after they went through training in solar lanterns assembling at Loyola Solar Centre at Pandua in West Bengal managed by Udayani (awakening) social action forum Kolkata,.

“One sees the confidence in the faces of these women today,” Jesuit Father Irudya Jothi, director of Udayani, told Matters India.

“One may place orders for a ‘Make in Bengal Solar Lanterns’ which will last more than the other or our women will set it right for you,” said Father Jothi, social worker and human rights activist.

Udayani’s one of the top priorities is women empowerment programs in rural Bengal especially for their skill development, political awareness, financial inclusion, human rights and human dignity.

Udayani has also programs such as ‘small savings’, ‘unity and peace-building’, ‘Rights-based Work.’

It played a key role in the making of legislation, National Food Security Act. It takes up ‘environmental issues’ by an opening nursery and solar housing and solar lantern assembling projects.

It also celebrates “Women’s Day’ and ‘Human Rights Day’, besides, taking an active part in tackling some of the corruption locally in the administration.

Udayani Social Action Forum is the social outreach arm of the Calcutta province of the Society of Jesus. It works with schools, parishes, spiritual centers, international immersion groups, NGOs, and other organizations to foster a faith that does justice.

It also serves as a link between the Jesuit social apostolate in India and the priorities of the Jesuit Conference of the South Asian Assistancy.

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