By Gopabandhu Dash
Bhubaneswar: The first ever Mission Shakti Mela organized by the Directorate of Mission Shakti at the IDCO Exhibition ground in Bhubaneswar is attracting a large number of footfalls. This Mela is one of its kind of exhibitions in India that illustrates the true reflection of women’s empowerment and self-reliance.
Put up in a great ambience and aesthetics, more than 200 stalls managed by the members of the Women Self Help Groups ((WSHGs) from across Odisha are displaying the divergent opportunities created for self-reliance of women in the state.
The Government of Odisha with its pro-women initiatives has created a conducive environment for the development of these self-help groups in every nook and corner of the state. Started in 2001, the Mission Shakti movement has been creating opportunities for women to bring them economic and financial opportunities and make them self-reliance.
Sujatha Kartikeyan, Commissioner-cum-Director, Mission Shakti, has rightly said that the Mission Shakti Mela is an attempt to economically empower the women working in SHGs.
The Mission Shakti Mela will go a long way in bringing to the fore the state’s achievements in women empowerment. The SHG revolution that has been transforming the lives of millions of women for the last two decades has strengthened the rural economy and added to the state’s economic growth also.
Today, the self-help groups are celebrating their freedom from poverty.
Mission Shakti Mela has exhibited the different areas where the women of Odisha have excelled as members of groups. Starting from preparing terracotta items such as toys and show pieces to packaged cereals. While stalls showcasing handloom and handicraft products are attracting crowd, eco friendly utensils and wooden products have seen greater demand.
Locally grown cereals such as millets, jawar and maize along with spices such as Haldi are selling like hotcakes in the exhibition. While the quality of the products are not less than any branded products available in the market, the crisp packaging has been a hit with the people coming to the Mela.
Mission Shakti has become an instant hit and has the potential to become a brand today. While stalls of Berhampuri pickles made by the women SHG members of south Odisha are attracting people, the stalls in the eatery section are over crouded with people. Availability of some traditional delicacies has really been appreciated by the people coming to the mela.
Participation of WSHGs in the mela expands their spatial movement which is hugely empowering. Besides being economically empowered this mela makes them social entrepreneurs of noticeable standing.
(The author is Political Secretary to Odisha Chief Minister.)