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Gender No Bar: How 5 Indian Villages Are Challenging Stereotypes

Here’s hoping they inspire villages and cities to follow suit.

Published
India
4 min read
Gender No Bar: How 5 Indian Villages Are Challenging Stereotypes

If you think that progressive societies are the sole preserve of urban areas, then we have news for you. Over the years, it’s not from cities, but from Indian villages that some of the most inspiring stories have emerged. While this may come as a surprise to many, but it’s true that India’s villages have time and again proven what Mahatma Gandhi had once said - ‘The future of India lies in its villages’.

We bring you stories of 5 villages that stunned everyone with their progressive outlook and unconventional thinking.

Banwari Tola - Razor Sharp

If you think only women in cities are breaking gender barriers, wait till you hear about Banwari Tola. Nearly five years ago, two teenage sisters, Jyoti and Neha, in this village near Gorakhpur started dressing up as boys to run their father’s barber shop, after he fell ill. They did this assuming that men in their village will be reluctant to visit a barber shop run by women. Not ones to give up, they decided to keep their father’s shop afloat by transforming into Deepak and Raju.

Shaving gender stereotypes, one razor at a time.
Shaving gender stereotypes, one razor at a time.
Photo: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/17/indian-teenagers-pretend-to-be-boys-to-keep-barbershop-afloat

While a lot of rural women live restricted lives, Jyoti and Neha didn’t think twice before shaving gender stereotypes by picking up the razor and running a male salon. That’s not all, to their surprise, when the fellow villagers learnt of this, they accepted it and celebrated the spirit of both sisters. Though the men took some time, they are now loyal customers at this truly inspiring barbershop and in awe of the skills of Jyoti and Neha. Now, isn’t that truly commendable? We urban denizens can learn a thing or two about being progressive from the people of Banwari Tola.

Chizami - Weaving Success Stories

In Nagaland’s Chizami village, economically backward women are at the forefront of a revolution. In 2008, Chizami Weaves, a livelihood program to support marginalised women was initiated by North East Network (NEN) in Nagaland. Since then, there is no looking back. Chizami Weaves is entirely run by women. From shawls and stoles to belts and mufflers, their line-up of products is diverse and impressive.

All hail women power.
All hail women power.
Photo: http://morungexpress.com/chizami-weaves-is-10-years-old/

From being relegated to doing odd jobs in the unorganised sector, today these women have carved a socioeconomic identity for themselves. They’re the epitome of women’s emancipation. Not only are they gainfully employed, but they have also kept Nagaland’s indigenous textile tradition alive.

Mawlynnong - Clean Sweep

Here’s a challenge: Go to Mawlynnong village in Meghalaya and find a spot that’s dirty. You just won’t be able to. The beautiful village, also known as God’s Own Garden, is said to be the cleanest village in Asia, and this is only possible because of the collective efforts of the residents. The locals have taken it upon themselves to ensure that nothing spoils the beauty of this picturesque village. It’s not uncommon to find them cleaning the roads themselves.

Every city and village must follow the Mawlynnong model.
Every city and village must follow the Mawlynnong model.
(Photo: http://northeasttourism.gov.in/mawlynnong.html)

That the village is dotted with bamboo bins is proof of how serious they are about cleanliness. Another interesting fact about Mawlynnong is that it has 100 percent literacy rate. This village clearly has its priorities right and is a model for the rest of India to emulate.

Punsari - Transformed By Tech

A village isn’t something that you would usually associate CCTVs, schools with ACs, biometric machines, affordable wi-fi connection and water purifying plants with. This is what makes a Gujarat village named Punsari different. Punsari has all the amenities that you just read about and more! The man who put this village on the technological highway was its former sarpanch Himanshu Patel. He changed the face of the village during his tenure between 2006 and 2016. Listen to him as he passionately talks about how he brought about this massive change.

Looks like our cities have a lot to learn from Punsari.

Piplantri -Little Green Revolution

In Rajasthan’s Piplantri village, the birth of a girl child is celebrated by planting trees. It wasn’t always like this. In 2006, the village sarpanch’s daughter died an untimely death. He turned this personal tragedy into his life’s mission and decided that the birth of a girl child will henceforth be celebrated by planting trees. Another reason why he came up with this rather unique practice was to fight female infanticide.

What can be a better way of celebrating the birth of a daughter than planting a tree?
What can be a better way of celebrating the birth of a daughter than planting a tree?
(Photo: https://www.procaffenation.com/piplantri-village-trees-planted-every-girl-child-born/)

Since 2006, nearly 111 trees have been planted for every girl that was born. The residents have so far managed to plant more than 3,00,000 trees. Parents are also made to sign an affidavit to make sure their daughters receive proper education and are not married off early. A fixed deposit account is opened in the name of the daughter. If this isn’t women empowerment, what is? Not to mention the environmental benefits of planting so many trees.

Each of these villages is defying conventions and shattering myths, while charting their path to progress. Here’s hoping they inspire villages and cities to follow suit!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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