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This Widow Proudly Stepped Out Of Home
Renu Rakesh

Moti Meena has done what not many women of her lot would have had the courage to do – she stood up for what she believed in, shunned regressive practices imposed in the name of tradition, and refused to remain imprisoned within the four walls of her home after the demise of her husband. As is the custom, widows in southern Rajasthan are under tremendous pressure to adhere to oppressive social customs, especially remarrying within the marital family and limiting their mobility. But when Moti lost her husband to an unknown illness in 2007, not only did she decline to remarry she made up her mind to work to support her three sons single-handedly. Nine years later, this feisty tribal woman is a senior health worker with a non government organisation that runs three clinics in remote villages of Salumber block in Udaipur. She spreads awareness about health and nutrition, educates women on ante- and post-natal care, follows up on tuberculosis patients during the community outreach, and counsels walk-ins at the clinic at Berawal gram panchayat. Married at 18, widowed at 28, Moti has certainly struggled hard to establish herself as an independent woman; her next challenge: to finish her Class Twelve and qualify for nursing school.

“I lost my husband to an undiagnosed disease; I don’t want others to die as he did. My team of health volunteers and I have raised awareness levels in villages about health issues.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDPA17 1200 words

“More Than A Mother”
Book Excerpt

When Preeti got married to her corporate executive husband, they were the quintessential upwardly mobile urban couple. When she became a mother, she gave up her job to be with her son, full-time. As an infant he was extremely demanding and she was there for him 24x7. However, as he started growing up she began receiving complaints about his erratic behaviour, especially the constant crying and screaming. After a while she consulted the doctor who told her he had autism. She had no idea what it was and when she read about it Preeti recalls having cried for months even as her son and she tried to find a way to cope with his disability. Like her, Kavita, too, took months to wrap her head around the changes she had to make in her life to ensure she was there for her autistic child at every step of the way. Whereas all mothers are expected to be selfless and caring, those who are confronted with mothering a disabled child have to literally find their ‘salvation’ in untiring care and sacrifice. Read about how autism mothers cope with their double-burden, in this excerpt from ‘Embodying Motherhood: Perspectives from Modern India’, published by Sage’s Yoda Press.

‘She (her daughter) is all we have got. We have got to do whatever we can.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDPA18 1200 words

Women, On The Joys of Giving
Aditi Bishnoi

It’s time… time to turn towards the light… rather, scores of warm, twinkling lights…that bring immense joy, togetherness, hope … it’s that time of year, when families across India celebrate the festival of lights, of homecoming, of thanksgiving, and of course, of indulging. If Diwali is about recalling legends – be it of the triumphant return of Ram to his kingdom Ayodhya, Krishna’s conquest over the demon king Narakasura, or the incarnation of the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi – it’s also about hitting the shops, with a vengeance. What Christmas is to the West, Diwali is to India as families and friends try to outdo one another in giving the most premium, innovative and thoughtful gifts of the season. We speak to everyday women, homemakers, educators, professionals, to see what’s in their goody bags this year. And, of course, this is just the beginning of the wonderful season of giving.

“I take out time to think about the likes and choices of my family and friends so that the gifts are meaningful and, yes, useful. And, honestly, sometimes, I do a little cheat and recycle stuff as well!”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDPA19 900 words

Snapshots Of Women Who Root For Peace

Women experience war differently from men. They see firsthand the unique impact that conflict, increased militarisation and violent extremism has on their communities, their families, and their own bodies. Less visible than the headlines, however, is how women carry on in spite of violence that may surround them: they seek education, continue careers, and raise families—sometimes travelling long distances to bring their children to safety. They are also working to prevent conflict and extremism. In the words of peace activist Sanam Anderlini, “wherever war and violence exist, women exist—and they have things to tell us”. As the United Nations and the world continue to seek solutions to global security crises and strive to build sustainable peace, this evocative photo essay serves as a reminder of the many ways in which women are working to prevent conflict and secure a sustainable peace. From Nepal to Nigeria, from Burma to Brazil, Congo, Cambodia, the strife torn Middle East, the stunning images of women peace-builders are telling reminders of what it’s like to live in the shadow of violence.

When war is at the door, what does a woman say to her grandson when he plays with a toy gun? While walking home from errands, how does it feel for a woman who must walk through a group of heavily armed police?

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: QQQPA17 800 words

In Style: Something Old, Something Borrowed, Plenty of Mix-n-Match
Surekha Kadapa-Bose

This season, dressing up’s all about going “traditional, yet trendy, chic and youthful”. How does one do that without burning a hole in the pocket? Designers Kiran Uttam Gosh, Deepika Govind and Ritu Kumar, among others, recommend fashion-forward women to: “raid your mother’s wardrobe for an old, old sari, combine it with a sequined cropped tee, a formal short or quilted cotton jacket (if you’re in the north where the chill is setting in) and complete the look with some borrowed glittering trinkets from your grandma’s vintage stash”. These are the new buzzwords for stepping out in style: observe experiment, be creative and stay away from peer pressure.

‘Wear the boldest of your belts over a sari. Accessorise with some long, short and mid-length strings of metal or beads in your neck. And step into your casual but comfy daily-wear shoes. Voila! You’re ready to celebrate.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDPA20 1100 words
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