New Delhi: The BBC has compiled a list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2018. A diverse group with ages ranging from 15 to 94 and from 60 different countries. Interestingly three women from India have made it to the list for their commendable work in their respective field.
A tailor by profession, 50 years-old Viji Penkoottu is one of them. She has been working relentlessly to secure better working conditions for labourers in the unorganized sector. Penkottu has earned a lot of name in the area for her work.
At the age of 22, she began taking up the issues concerning women in the unorganized sector. That's how she entered into social work. The woman became a public figure when she led the 'right to sit' struggle for female shop workers in Kerala. Campaign for toilet facility for women workers in the textile sector added another feather in her cap.
"I am very happy about being on the list. I think this shows that these basic demands that we fight for here are actually issues that women around the world face"
This 4 year long fight in which she was at the forefront, made Kerala government amend the Kerala shops and commercial establishment act in the state. Purpose of the act was to provide a comfortable working environment for the women employees and provisions for seating arrangements.
Talking about being featured in the BBC list, she said, "I am very happy about being on the list. I think this shows that these basic demands that we fight for here are actually issues that women around the world face".
Apart from Penkottu, another Indian woman on the list is Rahibai Soma Popere. She hails from Kombhalne village of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra. She is a self-made expert in agro-biodiversity and paddy cultivation. Rahibai has specific expertise in conservation of indigenous seed varieties. She was awarded with the title 'Seed Mother' by The Council of scientific and industrial research. Rahibai herself created water harvesting structures in her farms. With her own invented technique she has been able to turn two acres of wasteland into the productive farm land. Rahibai claims she's making good money growing veggies on that land. The expert woman now trains farmers and students on seed selection, soil fertility improvement and pest management techniques.
Tigress of Sunderbans
The third and last Indian woman in the list is Meena Gayen. She has been working with other women in Sunderbans delta to build a brick road to their village. The hurdle in this process was that in the whole region villages were surrounded by estuaries and tidal rivers. Meena and other women of her group never sat back and got eminence by making their villages more accessible building brick roads.
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