36 year old Kabita Mahato is the Cluster representative under HEVS initiative at Barogram Gram Panchayat of Purulia district, West Bengal.  She is also a renowned Village Organization leader, but Kabita’s life was not always as inspiring as it appears today. Kabita’s journey to this day has been full of struggles.

She was born into a family where girls’ education was not a priority. Despite being a woman, Kabita’s mother Mutuka Mahato would always favour her sons over Kabita. Kabita’s father was her greatest source of strength, and it was because of his support that Kabita was able to get primary education.

She was forced to get married at age 15. Though she managed to resume her education briefly after marriage, she had to quit due to the birth of her first child. Amidst all odds today Kabita leads 28 SHGs singlehandedly, attending meetings and looking after the needs of each group.

A mother of four: 2 sons and 2 daughters, Kabita was always a woman with self-motivation and a desire to do something. Her struggles in life, had instilled in her a burning desire to be recognized as someone important. Kabita always wanted to set up her own SHG and reap benefits from the government schemes. But in a patriarchal society this was not an easy task. However, with the support she received from her husband, she finally setup a SHG with 10 women from BPL category in 2004.

When HEVS first came into operation in the Joypur Block of Purulia District, the team immediately recognized that Kabita has the potential to be a health messenger for the project. They sensed her desire to do something, and understood that Kabita has the ability to reach out to all the SHG members within the Upasangha and educate them about health initiatives.

On becoming part of the HEVS, Kabita realized that there are many women, whose fate had been similar to hers. She understood that most of these women had no say in the decisions that affected them the most, particularly decisions related to issues such as marriage and pregnancy. Through her constant interventions, Kabita managed to help these women, she also facilitated home visits by social health workers, for women in more advanced stages of pregnancy. 

Today she feels more empowered, and thanks HEVS and CARE for realising her potential and providing a platform through which she could help more women live a life of dignity and security.

Posted By : Sreeparna Ghosh Mukherjee
Location : West Bengal