Born with a fighter's spirit and the passion to bring about a change in the society, Janak Palta McGilligan is one of those special women in Madhya Pradesh who ensure that they contribute their significant bit to the society.
The recipient of Padma Shri in 2015, McGilligan, in her mid-60s, is known for her distinguished work in the field of sustainable development.
She is known and highly respected for her emancipation programmes for rural women.
Founder member of the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women, McGilligan states that the main aim of their institute is to empower women only.
"We want to teach women something with which they can make their lives sustainable and beautiful. While doing this, we teach them the use of renewable energy. The idea is to make them (women) agents of change," she pointed out.
Women, who are homeless, physically challenged and divorced, are also taken under the shelter.
The aim of the institute is to look for alternative employment for the women.
"Barli is a common female name among Bhilala Tribes in the district where many trainees come from. Barli denotes the central pillar which supports the tribal house typical of these areas, highlighting the belief of the institute that women are the central pillars of the society," said McGilligan.
Founded in 1985, as the Baha’i Vocational Institute for Rural Women, the institute became an independent NGO managed by its own board of directors in 2001.
More than 100 women receive training every year in different courses on vegetable drying, personality development.
"We have cases wherein women were abused and tortured by their alcoholic husbands. With no professional skills, the women would continue to live a miserable life. We teach women how to support their family, how to ensure that their children live a healthy life," McGilligan said.