Bhubaneswar: In the last few months Odisha has fought Coronavirus with all its strength and ability and has successfully slowed its spread. In the fight against the alien disease, along with the government mechanism and dedicated service of the healthcare personnel, a silent army of more than seven million women did their best at the grassroots level to curb the spread of Coronavirus. Without their wholehearted and dedicated participation, the fight against the disease would have been incomplete.
The members of Mission Shakti stood like a formidable force and actively participated in creating awareness regarding social distancing, hygiene, use of masks and maintaining lockdown guidelines. Mission Shakti members became the backbone of rural Odisha in the fight against Covid-19 and history will remember them for their selfless sacrifice in serving the people of Odisha at this critical juncture.
Today Odisha is at a safe position only because of the important role played by the members of the SHG groups. They are the real heroines.
Speaking about the role of SHG members, Mission Shakti Director Sujata Katikeyan has said that “Mission Shakti members are working with full enthusiasm and dedication and taking the leadership in their respective areas be it villages, panchayats or blocks. They have become the frontline warriors in the society to keep their state safe. They are doing an important effort today”.
Staying at home, they have produced more than ten million masks and more than ten thousand members of Self-Help Groups were engaged in the supply of vegetables and ration to the people during lockdown and containment areas. They have handled community kitchens and supplied more than 2 crore meals to the needy in the Gram Panchayats. Take home ration to 80 lakh children and women have been being provided by the Mission Shakti members along with anganwadi didis.
The state government made arrangements for about Rs 145 crore worth loans with each member of the SHG Groups being given Rs 5000 COVID loan without interest.
The women SHG members, who played a crucial role in helping the State in its fight against the deadly virus, were instrumental in home policing to make their family members staying in homes. They sensitized their family members and local communities which enabled them to create mass awareness of the disease mainly among women in rural and semi urban areas.
Once again Mission Shakti members have risen to the occasion providing a vital link between government and community – as leaders and partners in service delivery at the grassroots level.
The Ganjam District administration came up with innovative arrangements for lockdown and engaged Self Help Groups (SHGs) to distributed onions and potatos at the doorsteps of the people in different wards of the Berhampur Municipality Corporation.
These WSHGs, part of the Mission Shakti movement launched by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik way back in 2001 to empower the women at the grassroots level, have become the dynamic force and emerged as an agent of change at this toughest time that human beings as a race rarely faced beyond their comprehension.
Various SHGs of Karnjia Block of Mayurbhanj were engaged in food distribution. Likewise, SHG Members of subarnapur also discharged their responsibility. Not only this, the WSHGs in Ganjam, Kendrapara, Mayurbhanj, Subarnapur, Puri and other districts have been engaged in a range of key activities including producing face masks and hand sanitizers, delivery of essential grocery items to the doorsteps of the people.
Special community level outlets for sale of masks and sanitizers were set up that made it possible for people to purchase them from nearer to their houses.
Community sales outlet in Balangir become a symbol of resilience. It has been helping local women self-help groups (SHGs) to survive the crisis and keep their entrepreneurial journey on a higher trajectory where more than 30 SHGs from both rural and urban areas directly and indirectly sold their products following COVID-19 guidelines and social distancing norms of the government.
The Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society, popularly known as ORMAS started selling quality masks made by Women Self Help Groups of the state. A sales counter set up in front of the SIRD campus in Bhubaneswar attracted a good number of people. The agency has also made available a mobile van that will sell masks by visiting various places. ORMAS has been playing an important role in marketing the masks various other markets also.