The Telegraph
Sunday , March 9 , 2014
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MLA bonds with women

- Jorhat legislator harps on empowerment schemes

Jorhat, March 8: On a day the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi connected with the Northeast women at his chai pe charcha in New Delhi, Jorhat MLA Rana Goswami had his own tea party with women at Shiksha Niketan here to mark International Women’s Day.

With the Congress wooing women voters through Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with 600 women here recently, Goswami furthered the cause of the women today with a personal touch. “Had it not been for you, I would never had had two terms in the Assembly. I know this because in interior villages and wherever I go, I am surrounded by the women and they attend most of my meetings in large numbers,” he told a gathering of about 200 women.

The MLA said gender discrimination in Assam was less compared to other parts of the country.

“I can say this because when the state government implemented the 33 per cent seat reservation for women in panchayats, 10 to 15 women had applied for each seat and it had been tough to decide on the best candidate. Hence, women’s empowerment has grown by leaps and bounds in Assam,” he said.

Goswami said when the Congress-led government under chief minister Tarun Gogoi came to power in 2001, there were only 6,000 women’s self-help groups. Now there are 1,60,000 such groups with 1,500 new groups registered in Jorhat district just a few days ago. Power tillers were also distributed to a number of women recently, he added.

“This is one of the positive signs of empowerment, with women having a say in economic matters and not needing to ask for money from the men folk,” Goswami said.

He also requested Prayashee, the organisers of the event, to hold more training camps for women in various skills to strengthen the empowerment process.

Goswami also spoke about how the livelihood department selected two blocks in Jorhat district for implementation of a pilot project in which women entrepreneurs could avail of loans from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh.

Earlier, Meenakshi Phukan, former dean of home science, Assam Agricultural University, said in accordance with this year’s Women’s Day theme of Spreading Change, Prayashi was training women in making table mats and pickles so women could sell them in the market.

Ruprekha Bordoloi, principal, Kakojan College, said empowerment of a woman begins from her family. “Despite economic independence, a woman sometimes is not allowed to take important decisions. It is necessary to bring empowerment on all fronts, whether be it political, social or economic but more so in the decision-making process,” she said. Discrimination against women still persists in Assam to some extent, she added.