One of the bravest forms of protest I’ve ever heard of was conducted by the women of a village in Uttarakhand. Led by their fearless leader Basanti, a group of empowered women took matters into their own hands to stop a truck, driven by a criminal cartel, carrying bootleg alcohol into their village.
They stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the middle of the road, physically blocking the truck with their own bodies.
These women said they would rather risk their lives than live in fear.
Women in Uttarakhand know that illegal alcohol is killing their husbands and sons. In February this year, just as I was visiting Uttarakhand, 70 people had died in the area after drinking a batch of tainted illegal alcohol.
Bootleg liquor is also directly linked to the dramatically high domestic violence rates in the region – a place where systemic violence against women has created a belief in women that men are allowed to hit their wives. 47% of women, and 42% of men, believe husbands are permitted to beat their wives.
Social inequality exacerbates and prolongs the devastating cycle of hunger and poverty, and impacts both women and men. To bring about a sustainable end to hunger once and for all, the gender discrimination that has been entrenched in Basanti’s community for generations must be eradicated.
The Hunger Project’s women’s leadership workshops in India are interrupting long-held, harmful social norms and gender roles that bar women from being active, valued community members.
Upon graduation from the workshops, women like Basanti become fierce leaders and champions of sustainable change in their communities. By opening the women up to the leadership and abilities already lying within them, Basanti and others go to great lengths in putting their lives on the line to eliminate social inequality and hunger from their villages forever. They look for the root causes of issues – and work to address them, in order to bring about lasting change.
You can make a difference to the people of Uttarakhand: stand with Basanti and invest in The Hunger Project. In doing so, you will enable even more champions of change to lift their villages out of hunger in a sustainable way.
Yours in ending hunger,
CEO, The Hunger Project Australia