Village Self-Help Groups Keeping Children Out of Labour
The women of Dungarpur like to quote an old Indian proverb that says many small ants can vanquish the large snake. Together they are making that proverb a reality by working together to keep their children out of labour and sending them to school.
Traditionally, many families in Dungarpur district in Rajasthan have sent their children to work in the cotton fields in the neighbouring state of Gujarat to supplement the family income.
Producers argue that children’s nimble fingers are more adept at picking cotton and cross-pollinating cotton seed. The reality is that children are cheap labour and easy to control. But working in the fields exposes them to dangerous pesticides and keeps them out of school.
More than 3 million children between the ages of 5 to 14 are involved in labour in Rajasthan, making it the third highest state in India. To keep their children out of labour and send them to school, women in the self-help group in Dunagarpur are banding together to buy seeds, fertilizer and cattle.
Having vegetables and milk to sell means that the women can earn some much needed cash that allows them to keep their children home and send them to school. Credit: UNICEF India/2010/Graham Crouch
“Children listen to women better, and women can talk to children better. They are the ones that stay home and take care of the child while the men work outside,” said Ramila Vysa, Self Help Group coordinator. “We’re saving children one by one.”
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