Named After Her

A tiny village of just 350 people, which has the fifth lowest sex ratio, is the first village in Punjab to honor women by displaying their names prominently outside their houses. Himmatpura, a village in the Bathinda district of Punjab, reversed the state-wide trend and started empowering women by putting nameplates of women along with their mobile numbers and a slogan about social networking.

This unique practice began in Bibipur village in Haryana in July 2015. With a sex ratio of 888 (Punjab health department data for 2016-17), Himmatpura is home to small and marginal farmers with landholdings between nearly 4 and 20 acres. About 55% of the villagers are women and a woman heads the six-member panchayat along with two more female members.

Image result for Himmatpura haryana women namesThe effort of displaying the names of all women outside their homes was motivated by Roop Singh, who contributed Rs. 10,000/- for preparing 62 nameplates, one for each house. In addition to this, the panchayat has also started distributing shagun of Rs.5,100 on marriage of all female villagers and Rs.1,100 on the birth of a girl child in the village. They have also started honoring girls excelling in any field, especially education and sports.

A partially-literate sarpanch Malkit Kaur played an instrumental role in ensuring that all the males in the village readily accepted the proposed changes. The additional deputy commissioner Shena Aggarwal helped her in this endeavor. Malkit said, “Not only by displaying names of females, we also try to promote female education and help our daughters get higher education in various colleges. We want our daughters to be independent. Apart from thinking big for females, the village has another first to its credit as elections have never been held to elect the village panchayat ever since the village was carved out of Mehraj in 1997. On all four occasions, the panchayat has been chosen unanimously — two males and two women have been at the helm of affairs twice each, including the ongoing term.”

Excited by the changes, local villagers Charanjit Kaur and Mohinder Kaur said, “We feel elated over women being given so much importance in an otherwise male dominated society. It all happened with complete support of males, who happily supported the move rather than putting up stumbling blocks.”