While we don't have to wait for a special day to recognize or appreciate the contribution of women, it stares us in the face every day, I take International women’s day as an opportunity to remind myself how important are women to SoulTree. It also becomes an occasion for me to reconfirm my commitment to accord them all the respect that they rightfully deserve.
SoulTree’s very existence depends on women as on one end they are the majority of its customers, hence justifying its existence and on the other they are the providers of our key ingredients thus making this existence possible. I am therefore filled with immense appreciation for them. I also seek to learn from them.
My work has given me the opportunity to closely encounter some extraordinary women who have displayed great strength and courage in the midst of their ordinary lives. Today I would like to briefly talk about one of them.
Bhagwati Devi of Gohar village in Almora district , whom I have known for nearly 8 years now, is one such person. She lost her husband at a young age. With 2 young daughters to take care of, perhaps she never got the chance to rue her fate. Assuming responsibility as the bread earner of the family, she started to work as a social worker in one of our NGO partner’s projects. Her work involved traveling long distances, supporting the NGOs social outreach projects. From being a person in need of support she turned into a person helping and guiding others. While this job gave her basic income, it also exposed her to the world of organic farming. Therein she found a path to not only care for her environment but also to augment her modest income which would be necessary as her daughters grew up. In the midst of her busy routine which included her job, taking care of her daughters, elderly mother-in-law, she made time to tend to her crops of Haldi, Amla and Reetha which found their way into SoulTree’s products. Last year she provided over 1000 kg of Amla to Soultree. The additional assured income has ensured that her daughters continue their studies and I am sure she is a role model for them. She is now planning for the higher studies of her eldest one. Between her day job, taking care of the farm and household as well as being a single parent perhaps she does not have time to celebrate International Women’s day but we must celebrate her spirit.
While I have seen many men give into despair when confronted with adversity, Bhagwati Devi is a testimony to the resilience of women.
I am sure there are many such women out there and I have no right to stake claim to the stories of the courageous women I work with. Neither do I cite these stories to solicit sympathy based sales for SoulTree, for I believe SoulTree products can sell by their own merit.
My reason for talking about them is to reaffirm that no woman should see herself as helpless. Women do not need help or special treatment from anyone. All they need is for people in their environment to play a positive role and respect them for their limitless potential. They can take care of the rest.