STRENGTH OF A SINGLE WOMAN

India Today|December 30, 2019

STRENGTH OF A SINGLE WOMAN
Widowed at 23 and blamed for the misfortune, Nirmal Chandel spent a year in a dark corner of her in-laws’ home. “I thought of ending my life once, but life had some other role for me in mind,” says Chandel.
Rajiv Phull

Thirty years on, Chandel, now 53 and living in the Sarkaghat area of Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh, has not only transformed her own life but become a beacon of light for other single women in the state. She leads the over 16,000-member-strong Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan (ENSS) and fights for the rights of poor widows, divorced, deserted and unmarried women in Himachal villages.

In 1990, a year after her husband’s death, Chandel left her in-laws’ home to work independently with Social Upliftment through Rural Action (SUTRA) as an accountant for Rs 350 per month. While working with the NGO, Chandel realised that most women have the same story—deprived of basic rights, financial security and property if there’s no husband in the picture.

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December 30, 2019