Nearly two months after Hindustan Times carried a story about a group of women from a Haryana village celebrating independence from the ghunghat (veil), the campaign has gained momentum. 47 women sarpanchs from Faridabad district recently took an oath to free their villages from the ghunghat by August 15.
The district administration organised an event on the Swachh Bharat mission on Saturday, to which the sarpanchs of 116 villages were invited.
Woman and Child Development Project Officer, Faridabad (Rural), Meenakshi Chaudhary administered the oath to all the women sarpanches and ananganwari workers to ensure their respective villagers were free of the ghunghat by the time India celebrates the 70th independence day.
“I administered the oath to the women sarpanches and ananganwari workers to motivate women to free themselves from the ghunghat,” Meenakshi Chaudhary told HT.
“We are working on the ground to ensure this target is achieved in the time frame with the help of the women sarpanchs,” she added.
A Muslim sarpanch, Najma, who too took the oath, told HT: “My father-in-law was the sarpanch for the last ten years and he too had been fighting for freedom from the Ghunghat’.
“Now, that I am the sarpanch, I have been carrying forward my father-in-law’s vision to achieve this aim at the earliest,” said Najma, a graduate and a resident of Delhi. She is married to a family in Dauj, a village in Faridabad.
“We are lucky to have deputy commissioner Chander Shekhar who believes that the benefits of economic empowerment will actually yield results when women feel socially empowered,” Najma added.
“It is the deputy commissioner who encourages us to come forward and take advantages of government schemes”, she said.
“With the veil covering our faces, we cannot march ahead, so this veil has to be lifted and I am whole-heartedly working to free my village from this tradition by August 15,” Najma added.
Manju Yadav, an MSC Forensic Sciences and Law graduate, sprang a surprise when she started addressing the audience, saying: “It is women who are against women, not the men.”
Manju was in the limelight recently, when she along with seven other ladies in her family pleaded before Faridabad deputy commissioner Chander Shekhar to help them become free them from Ghunghat, which they did in the presence of their Sarpanch Mahipal Arya and other male members of their family on April 30.
“After we lifted the Ghunghat in the presence of deputy commissioner sir and the sarpanch, and when I and my sister Anju started building the campaign in our area, some women in the locality complained to our mother-in-law about this,” Manju said.
“I visited those ladies and convinced them on Monday,” said Mahipal Arya, a sarpanch. “I asked them why, when they do not keep the ghunghat before outsiders and vendors, they do it before their near and dear ones,” Arya said.
“When qualified ladies came forward and urged me to help them lift their ghunghat, that too, in the presence of their male male family members and the sarpanch, I thought the administration should help them. So we administered the oath,” said deputy commissioner, Faridabad, Chander Shekhar.