Women in most parts of India face discrimination and exclusion due to the patriarchal social setting in all spheres of their lives. Widows of India, especially in rural India, face more discrimination and exclusion because with the demise of their husband because their social standing and identity are also considered to have 'died'. Pooja was ousted from her in-law's house in Jolly village of Dehradun, along with her two children, after her husband died. " After my in-laws threw me out, my maternal home also didn't take me back. I had no place to turn to with my two children in tow," Pooja tells Luxmi Nautiyal, Video Volunteers Community Correspondent from Dehradun, Uttrakhand. Belonging to a Below Poverty Line, it is particularly hard for Pooja to sustain her family and education of her children and finding employment was especially tough since Pooja is illiterate.
Like Pooja, most women in rural India are economically dependent on husbands due to little or not education (education percent) ; they face a lot of adversities after their husband's demise. To help widows be financially less dependent on others, the Government of India offers a pension plan 'Vidhwa Pension Yojana'. Under this scheme registered widows belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) households get government support of Rs. 300 per month. While this amount is insufficient to sustain a family comfortably, it has value for a household that fights for survival every day.
Pooja had applied for the widow pension several times since the demise of her husband, but her appeals have met neglect from authorities at Jolly village. "I have given at least two applications to the village head and even requested the authorities to look into the matter," but the authorities have so far not taken any definitive action to help Pooja.
Pooja works at less than Rs. 3,000 a month, as a help in the local hospital of the village of Jolly. "The wages are just about enough to bring food home but my children can't go to school because it is difficult to make ends meet," tells a visibly tired Pooja.
Many Poojas in Jolly need your help
The struggle is not Pooja's alone. The village has several other widows who have been waiting for their widow pension since a few years. Lata makes ends meet as a housemaid and Sureshna, depends on farm labour to sustain her family. They all have made several applications and appeals to the village head and the local social welfare department.
While the government has installed schemes for the benefit of BPL families, the lax attitude of administrators at the ground level has been a hindrance in effective implementation. These women deserve to live their lives with dignity and get the pension, that is their right.
Call the Social Welfare Officer of Dehradun, Uttrakhand on +91-9410767072 and demand that these women of Jolly get their widow pension at the earliest
Community correspondent Luxmi reports from Uttarakhand for Video Volunteers.
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