Mrunal Manmay Dash

‘Woman’ is not just a word. There is a lot of depth between the letters. Sometimes a mother, sometimes a sister, sometimes a daughter-in-law and sometimes a wife, women have been portrayed in many characters.

In every way, women have proved themselves to be competent just like these three women from Odisha who have broken stereotypes and carved a niche for themselves in society.

They have overcome all the obstacles and not only made themselves self-reliant, but they have also helped the needy.

72-year-old Banita Sahu of Balipatna block in Khordha district has not given up even when she is now in her old age. She runs a roadside eatery stall at Madhuban on Balakati-Balipatna road. Every morning, there is a crowd of customers at her shop.

In addition to raising her family, Banita has also married off five daughters. Banita's courage and self-esteem is an inspiration for everyone.

“My husband died after opening a shop here. I am living my life in this small hotel. I married my daughters off by selling whatever lands we had. Now my daughters are with their in-laws and this small hotel is my only support to earn my living,” said Banita Sahu.

A local of Balipatna Biswambar Parida said, “Her husband has been dead for 26 years. She has been living here with her kids since then. She was able to educate them and later marry them off by working in that tiffin stall.”

Another such woman is Renuka Singh of Nati village in Niali block of Cuttack district. Renuka faced a lot of hurdles in her studies as a child.

She set up a school with six children after completing her Graduation so that no one could suffer the hardships that she did. Today, 350 to 400 students are studying in the school. The alumni of this school have become doctors and engineers. Seeing these, Renuka said that her 22 years of penance have been successful.

“We faced hardship during our studies. The area is filled with rivers and nullahs. We were forced to cross them dangerously to go to school. When I completed my Graduation, I thought of opening a school here so that the children do not have to face the hardship that I endured. I started the school with six children. Now there are 350-400 students. I am teaching them free of cost,” said Renuka.

Madhusmita Mohanty of Apuza village in Niali block is another enterprising woman. She has set up an Omfed parlour in Adaspur market to support her husband.

“The government had invited applications to set up OMFED kiosks. I asked my husband to apply for it and by God’s grace, we were granted a booth to sell OMFED products. Nowadays women are doing a lot of work. I feel privileged if I can contribute to the livelihood of my family,” said Madhusmita.

They all have proven that age is just a number in front of strong willpower. In a male-dominated society, women have become an inspiration for everyone by making themselves self-reliant.