Mayavati, a 29-year old Dalit from Kisani ka purva village in Rai Bareli district of Uttar Pradesh, has struggled hard against poverty and discrimination to educate her children. Her father was unfairly paid for the work he did on the field of a landlord and she spent several hungry days in her childhood. She remembers never being allowed to step out of her house alone. When she was married at 15, she hoped that things would change, but they did not. She worked in a rice mill where she saved the residue of broken rice mixed with stones to feed her husband and children. Eventually she got involve with a savings group in her village, which helped her save money and take loans to put her children in school. She also set up her own petty shop. She now wants to help other women and believes that no amount of cash transfer will help alleviate poverty. She sees collectivisation to be the only solution. She dreams about a world where all children go to school.
Joshna Pradan, 22, fought for her family’s right over their one acre of land in their village in Kandhmal district of Odisha. When Joshna lost her father at a very young age, her uncle took possession of the one acre of land their family owned, which was their only means of survival. He also separated her elder brothers from them. She, her mother and siblings had to starve for days on end, or survive on the wild roots she used to bring from the forest. When she grew up, Joshna summoned the village panchayat and fought for the land. Thanks to her efforts, they were able to get back a small portion of the land.
These were some of the voices who spoke as Voice for Change at a ground level panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda by People Living in Poverty organised by Praxis, a non-governmental organisation here in the Capital last week. The ground level panel consists of 14 members from diverse backgrounds living in poverty and experienced marginalisation and came together for five days to deliberate on their responses and recommendations to the United Nations High Level Panel report on the post 2015 global development framework. They are not members of any government, private or non-governmental organisations or associated with any political parties or trade unions. Instead, the panellists drew on their own experiences of marginalisation and exclusion to provide a ground level reality check to the High Level Panel.
Sharing their recommendations, the ground level panel members sought establishment of a corruption free society and state. Therefore, there is need for reservation and targeted support, be they poor, Dalits, tribals, minorities, women, elderly, transgender, children, slum dwellers or people with disabilities.