Taken for granted
The sathins (village-level female social workers) have been in the forefront of the Women's Development Programme (WDP) in the rural areas of Rajasthan. However, their commitment and success have brought them little in terms of remuneration. Under the banner of the Sathin Karmchari Sangh, the sathins have been demanding fair wages and an end to exploitation of women's labour under the WDP for the past four years. They highlighted their demands at a public meeting and sit-in demonstration from April 3-7 in Jaipur.
Over the last decade, the sathins have been successfully mobilising rural women at the grassroots level into playing an active role in the political, social and development process. The sathins have met with a lot of opposition while carrying out their task of transforming traditional social structures for improving the conditions of rural women in a feudal, caste-ridden and backward state like Rajasthan.However, they are given a meagre honorarium of Rs 250 per month under the pretext of being 'voluntary workers'. Though the sathins carry out as many as 64 target-oriented tasks listed by the government, there are no service rules or security of employment.
Even as the sathins are spearheading the movement against anti-women socio-economic and political processes, the Rajasthan government is showing indications of winding up the sathin model of women's development. There has been no recruitment of sathins for the last five years and out of the 2,000 sathin posts, two thirds are lying vacant.
The sathins are demanding that their institution be retained, the WDP be expanded and all the vacant posts be filled. Other demands include reasonable wages, an appropriate status and involvement in the process of deciding the future of the WDP.
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