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17 Aug 2020

Gagudi - Working to construct gender equality


"One needs to be fearless to be a labourer; it's harder than it seems!"

These are the words of Gagudi, who has broken the mould by working as a mason and labourer in a region where the jobs are predominantly performed by men.

She started working with the local forest department more than two years ago to help her husband support their family of seven. He believed in her and encouraged her to work, and was also grateful for the additional income.

Gagudi began by repairing the boundary walls of the common land and forest areas in the remote, rural areas of Udaipur district. This is essential work, necessary to keep out roaming animals and encroaching parties who end up destroying the fragile environment.

"I would repair boundary walls on the sides of steep mountains. When the forest department's officers would assess our work and point out what was good and what needed to be improved, I paid attention and made sure to learn everything they said."

As Gagudi continued to learn numerous skills and improve the quality of her work, her male colleagues would always question why she was working, thinking it strange that a woman would be doing a ‘man's job'. Undeterred, she continued and began to take more labour opportunities, including constructing houses. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Gagudi began repairing a local dam in her area through a project supported by Seva Mandir.

Seva Mandir is constructing and repairing water harvesting resources throughout southern Rajasthan to increase the availability of water year-round. In many cases, these resources have deteriorated due to a lack of proper management, putting pressure on an already water-scarce area. You can find out more about the organisation's work on this here.

Gagudi does not want to stop here. She sees no reason why all women in her region should not take up work as labourers, and is determined to see it happen. "I want to train other women to do the work I do. I will start at the first opportunity!"


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