WOMAN OF THE RIVER

Can a single woman turn the tide… literally?

When the water levels of Kosi River in Uttarakhand began to decrease, the villagers that depended on the river bore the direct brunt of it. The problem would have been fatal had it not been for the relentless efforts of one woman - Basanti.

Basanti in 2003 had read about how deforestation in the Kosi region could eventually lead to the river drying up by 2010. She researched more and found out that forest fires and cutting of trees was affecting the balance of the eco-system of the river. This alarming find was what spurred her into action. She began following the women of the village as they would go down to the forest to cut wood, show them the article and tried to talk them out of unprecedented wood cutting.

Eventually, she succeeded in educating the women about the importance of conserving the forest to help conserve the river. She requested them to form small groups and look after the forest. She also managed to convince the women to refrain from cutting live wood, particularly oakwood. While she and the groups of women did face some opposition from other villagers in the initial phases, eventually, the process streamlined to such an extent that the forest officials also decided to lend their support as both parties were fighting for the same cause.

The villagers, under Basanti’s guidance, were helping protect the forest from fire and had ceased to cut live wood as well. As a result of her efforts, the forest began to yield healthier pine trees and new springs have begun to sprout, which serve a perennial source of water.

One lady convinced other women to join her and save the river. One lady took the responsibility, and in no time, she had other women following her footsteps. This inspiring story only proves that there is immense strength in numbers; that together, women can shake mountains or in this case, turn the tide!

If a woman can get a river to begin flowing again, what’s to stop women who constitute 49% of the vote bloc from transforming this country? #PowerOf49

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