CSIR-IIIM Social Experiment Empowers Women Through Community Employment Model
On a bright sunny afternoon on June 11, a teenage girl was working inside a fenced plot on the outskirts of Pulwama, in the village of Bonera. Dressed in a modest dress, she was weeding a nursery of carnations, a cash crop grown for cut flowers.
The carnation crop faces a sea of small bushes of purple-flowering lavender, an aromatic shrub grown for lavender oil. Like carnation and lavender, this farm has many aromatic, medicinal and ornamental plants, including rose, scented geranium, clary sage, mugwort and rosemary.
A large sign on one corner means that this place is the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CISR) Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) Field Station Bonera, Pulwama.
Wearing a beautiful smile on her face, the girl identified herself as Seerat Jan from the nearby village of Bandzoo. She has been working there for two years. One of his neighbors, a member of the village self-help group, told him about this place.
She presented herself to the managers of this field station to work as a seasonal worker. Eventually she landed at the farm where she found many girls like her working as seasonal laborers growing and harvesting aromatic and medicinal plants. The physical atmosphere and the social security of this place attracted him; she invited her two younger sisters to work on the farm.
The three of them earn a decent amount. “It’s a good place for women to work, we earn enough money to manage our daily needs and also support our parents,” Seerat told Rising Kashmir.
Many girls like Seerat and her sisters; Uzma and Saima derive their livelihood from this 150 acre CSIR-IIIM Bonera field station, the largest such farm in North India.
Nasreena, a married woman from Looswani village in Pulwama is one of them. She has been on the farm since last March.
“Working here made me feel independent, the workers get a lot of encouragement and support from the officers here,” she said.
She added that they make their living from the place with dignity and respect.
“This resort has a secure environment due to which many girls prefer to work here,” she said.
We salute this scientific body turned towards research to invent a community employment model for women.
Locally, it is the largest employer of female workers. “In high season, he employs over 200 women,” said a laborer working on the farm.
Dr. Shahid Rasool, Chief Scientist, Field Station, CSIR IIIM, Bonera, Pulwama, told Rising Kashmir that it was his idea to approach the National Rural Livelihood Mission Pulwama with a proposal to employ girls on the farm .
“It was proposed before the authorities that the girls be employed after training them on how to cultivate these crops,” he said.
About 200 girls have completed the training and worked on the farm. “Most of them learned the skills of this trade here, they were given seedlings and they started self-employment,” Shahid said.
He added that 70 girls are still working on the farm and they plan to train them to start their own agricultural entrepreneurship.
He said that the breeding of aromatic and medicinal plants does not require intense physical activity.
“I’ve observed that women are very comfortable working here,” he said, “They may have found the ambience or the feel of the place appealing, many factors play a role.”
The senior scientist said they have repeatedly assured the women of safety and security.