Dorothiya Ekka (right) with panchayat samiti member Sophiya Toppo at Namkum in Ranchi on Monday
Think cover girl, think glamorous Page 3 celebrity. Well, think again.
Meet Dorothiya Dayamani Ekka (30), elected mukhiya of Ara panchayat, Namkum block in Ranchi, on the cover of the current edition of the magazine Panchayat Ki Pagdandi.
The magazine, brought out by Jharkhand Panchayat Women Resource Centre, an outfit under state panchayati raj department, chose Dorothiya for her pioneering work in generating jobs for women and helping students study under solar lamps.
What Dorothiya did was take simple steps at a time.
Since her election in 2011, she has inspired over 330 rural women to organise themselves in 22 self-help groups, grow kitchen gardens, cultivate mushrooms and raise goats and chickens.
In two years, over 100 women now cultivate mushrooms for local markets.
Though the earnings of women vary, using self-help groups to raise collective capital for micro businesses is working. Women are confident enough to start a ration shop and buy an auto-rickshaw to rent it out for extra income.
Working out of a rented office — Ara doesn’t have a panchayat bhavan yet — Dorothiya installed solar light charger points in her room to put the 50 lamps gifted by NGO Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra to good use, lending them out to schoolchildren to study at night.
Vishnu Rajgadia, state coordinator of Jharkhand Panchayat Women Resource Centre, said: “She has made her panchayat a model for others to follow.”
Dorothiya, a graduate, said she wanted to start changing attitudes of women. “I didn’t want to scare them away by being too ambitious, nor did I want to sit and wait. I got the women started with familiar concepts of poultry and kitchen garden. I distributed goats in each of the nine wards for breeding,” she said.
Panchayat samiti member Sophiya Toppo is all praise for Dorothiya: “She stresses on all-round development. There are 22 self-help groups with 15 to 20 women in each in our panchayat linked with income-generation activities, no small feat in two years.”
The ration shop that the women’s groups have started also chip in with foodgrain for the nearby state-run school when needed.
Now, Dorothiya is aiming big. She’s trying to revive 14 big and small factories in her area, meeting with owners and trying to understand problems at their source. “When I have been given the mandate to make changes happen, why won’t I do all I can?” she smiles.
How can sincere panchayat leaders be felicitated for their efforts?