Savroli( Raigad): Tata Steel has organised a Mahila Melawa, or women’s meet, as part of its Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship (WEE) Programme at its township near its plant in Sarvoli in Khalapur taluk of Raigad district.

The programme, organised in association with the NGO partner of the steel major’s CSR wing called the Watershed Organisation Trust, was aimed at facilitating exchange of ideas, create awareness about women related issues and celebrate womanhood. The programme started with a floral tribute to Savitribai Phule, the great 19th century social reformer, educationalist, and poet of Maharashtra who, along with her husband Jyotirao Phule, played an important role in improving women’s rights in India.

Balaji Puri, Block Development Officer of Panchayat Samiti at Khalapur; Dr. Prasad Rokde, taluk health officer of Panchayat Samiti, Khalapur; Rajshree Jogi, deputy tehsildar of Khalapur and Kapil Modi, Executive Plant Head of Tata Steel Khopoli and Hosur; formally inaugurated the programme. Nearly 400 women from Devanhave and Savroli panchayats took part in it. The students of Savroli Zilla Parishad School gave a vocal recital and performed a “nukkad natak”, popularly called patha natya, on the occasion.

Balaji Puri, Block Development Officer of Panchayat Samiti at Khalapur, said, “It’s heartening to see how interventions like WEE bringing changes among the rural women through economic inclusiveness, livelihood programmes and enterprise development. He urged the women SHG members present in the function to make best use of the facilities being extended by the steel major to empower them.”

Thanking the local administration and all the elected representatives for their whole-hearted support for various soico-economic interventions of Tata Steel, Kapil Modi, Executive Plant Head of Tata Steel Khopoli, said, ‘Through our women outreach programmed WEE, we are touching a population of about 5000 from the surrounding villages. Besides, the company is also contributing its bit to other sectors like education, health, rural infrastructure, agriculture, etc. to address the needs of various segments of the society. We stand committed for the overall growth of the region, he added.”

The women of various self-help groups presented cultural programmes and shared their experiences with each other. To create awareness on the Indian government’s “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” campaign, 22 parents of new-born girls from nearby villages were felicitated on the occasion. The WEE project has helped 30 SHGs to link with Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission and 90 percent of all our associate SHGs are registered with it. 452 SHG members are engaged in microfinance with total saving worth more than Rs 10.00 lakhs in ventures like poultry farming, mask making, goat rearing, papad making, masala making, etc.

Other dignitaries present included Prachi Lad, sarpanch of Savroli; Bhushan Kadav, gram panchayat member, Devanhave; Preetilata Gaikwad, manager of WOTR; Mahadev Shinde, assistant group development officer; Bhavesh Raval, CSR Manager of Tata Steel; and representatives from Khalapur Industry Department.