Bishnupriya Pradhan, a young Adivasi girl from Kandhamal district’s Bradinaju village in Odisha is inspiring thousands in her community, as she chases her ambitions fearlessly, embodying the true spirit of women empowerment.

When most girls her age in the community were getting married, Bishnupriya decided to pursue her graduation in Arts, managing her own fees by working as a Community Resource Person(CRP) under CARE India’s Pathways project.

Though she was born in a poor family with limited means, Bishnupriya’s dedication and hard work has helped her follow her dreams and pursue her education. Daily, she studies from 7 to 8.30am in the morning and 9 to 10.30 pm in the evening.  Along with this, she assists her mother in household chores, and visits several project locations as part of her daily CRP duties which are from 9 am to 5.30 pm every day. After completing field work, she reflects on the day gone by, and plans for the next day, to ensure quality implementation of planned activities.

Being able to empower women members of Self Help Groups (SHG), through project interventions gives her abundant energy and inspiration to work every single day, Bishnupriya says with beaming eyes.

Under the Pathways project, CARE India trained her in agriculture, market access, gender-equality, collective-strengthening among other relevant aspects. Her motivation to learn new things further helped her to grasp important concepts effectively.

She was especially motivated by gender sensitization, equity and equality trainings and took keen interest in its implementation, in her assigned project villages. Bishnupriya says that working with women is one of the most satisfying experiences as it enables her to create social value.

“Each day brings new learnings for me. I meet different people including men, women, girls, elderly and the young from various communities. I help them understand project interventions and openly discuss any key issues or challenges they may be facing in their lives. I come across a variety of issues, and try my best to help people in overcoming them. My work gives me great satisfaction and motivates me to return every day as a CRP,” she says.

Through her work, she has managed to effectively promote sustainable agriculture and market engagement practices through Farm Field Schools, propel social change through Reflect Circles and encouraged Male Change Agents, Animators and Agri-prenures in her intervention areas.

She has worked relentlessly to build self-esteem among women farmers in aggregation, marketing and enhancement of household income. Her work in aiding women farmers in accessing forest rights, subsidies from Government safety net programs speaks volumes about several successes that she has made in Pathways.

Her inspirational efforts will go a long way in addressing gender-discrimination, caste/class barriers and promoting empowerment of Dalit and Adivasi women in remote tribal villages in the region. 

Even after the project ends, Bishnupriya is confident that she will continue her work and make her living as a Livelihood Service Provider to marginalized Dalit and Adivasi women farmers.

“It’s my ambition to become an effective social worker, and be able to rightly serve the marginalized community and empower the women,” she adds.

About Pathways:

The Pathways initiative seeks to better the lives of poor women farmers by increasing their opportunities while addressing their social, economic and environmental constraints in agriculture. It focuses on developing multiple pathways towards a secure and resilient livelihood for some of the most ethnically and socially marginalised groups in Kandhamal and Kalahandi districts in Odisha. These pathways are achieved through the empowerment of women smallholders, enhancement of intensified agricultural sector by means of leveraging key cross-cutting agriculture support systems and promotion and fulfilment of women’s rights, equity and leadership. Pathways project aims increase poor women farmers’ productivity and empowerment in more equitable agriculture systems at scale.

Rajan Bahadur