“I felt sad seeing my peers go to college, while I went to the farm to work,” recalls Priya Narendra Bhatkar coming from a middle-class family of three sisters, who had to discontinue their education after the 12th standard, due to poor financial conditions. Because their parents were ill and weak, the girls had to take up work at a school-going age to support the family. But once school finished, it was not possible to pursue further education.

Soon after, Priya got married to a farmer but even then, there was no improvement in the financial condition of the family. This led her to a state of depression and wondering when her troubles would end. Priya’s only source of happiness became her daughter, Sanvi and she realised that her whole world revolved around her family. She felt that she needed to do something for them.

So, when Priya learnt about a P. A. C. E. training being conducted in her village by CARE India, she jumped at the opportunity. While undergoing the training, she decided that the knowledge and skills she was imbibing were indeed useful in overcoming depression and stress.

Her trainer, Kalpana Kamble recognised her great potential and suggested that she study further. Priya hesitated and confided in her the poor economic conditions at home and the paucity of time for her to pursue anything more. Even if she got the time, her husband would not allow her to study and train further. To solve this issue, Kalpana taught her time management under the P. A. C. E. training module. She also held group discussions with mixed groups of men and women on the subject of gender equality, something that Priya’s husband also attended.

Gradually, the tide turned and Priya’s husband became more accepting and favourable of his wife studying further. She took admission in a BA course and passed the first semester with a 60%.

At first, Priya’s mother-in-law did not support her in this, but seeing her success and dedication, she also came around. As a result, Priya started to receive support and acceptance from her family.

Today, the industrious lady works at an Internet café in Hinganghat taluka. She reserves all the credit for her perseverant trainer and the P. A. C. E. training programme that filled her with confidence and changed her life.

About the Programme: CARE is working with USAID and Gap Inc. as a partner of the ambitious Women + Water Alliance (W+W) to improve and sustain the health and well-being of 2,00,000 women, their households and communities touched by the apparel industry. The programme is designed on the premise that by providing access to water, inculcating sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices and sharing water resources in a sustained and equitable manner, women will be able to significantly improve their health and wellbeing.

Posted by: Priyank Verma, KMLE Expert

Location: Shirud village, Hinganghat taluka, Wardha district, Maharashtra

In 2022, for International Women’s Day (IWD), the UN has adopted the theme ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’, to celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.