MYTH 10: A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE HOME

MYTH 10: A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE HOME

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Posted
10/11/13

LOOKING FORWARD: Anasuyamma Ianusuya, India

Anasuyamma Ianusuya’s husband doused her with kerosene, lit a match and held it close. She had drawn his wrath for refusing to accept a dowry for their daughter. Now, faced with death, Ianusuya refused to relent. No dowry, she said.

Ianusuya ran and sought shelter from a women’s group in Dharmajipet, a rural village in the Indian state of Andrah Pradesh. Accepting 10,000 rupees for her daughter, she said, would reinforce the very mindset that had led her husband to believe he had the right to abuse her for disobeying him. “Dowries degrade women,” she said.

Ianusuya’s group was small but determined. Together the dozen women confronted Ianusuya’s husband and the family that wanted to pay a dowry for her daughter, scuttling the plan for the time being. Then they joined a microfinance program, took out loans and purchased several cows. Milk sales soon had them turning a profit. They were united in the belief that women had much to offer — outside the home.

Banding together with other women’s groups in 20 nearby villages, they formed a wider federation. Ianusuya was elected president. Under her leadership, the federation launched a soap-making business. Before long, “Uttam” brand soap was the most popular in their community. By 2008, the Uttam factory had 19 employees producing 3,200 bars per day. Now each woman in Ianusuya’s group makes enough money to send her children — including girls — to school. Recently, one daughter became the first in the village to attend college.

“You can easily break a single matchstick, but not 12 together,” Ianusuya says. “Unity is our strength.”

Recently the women showed their influence is growing in other ways. They successfully pushed for a local ordinance banning alcohol, which they believe fuels violence against women. As for Ianusuya’s daughter, she did get married in the end. Without a dowry.  

LOOK BACK

We used to depend on our husbands for everything. Now we support our households.

- Anasuyamma Ianusuya

© 2008 Brendan Bannon/CARE

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