Arifa Gazi

Arifa, picture above, has been a member of the ActionAid women’s group in West Bengal since 2009, recruiting over 25 other memebrs. Arifa and the members of the group specifically talk about topics they are passionate about, such as the shortage of clean water, poor roads, and the lack of electricity and education in the community. With such hot topics in the commnity, Arifa now has around 200 women in her group.

Arifa has not always been able to talk so freely about the issues she wants to. Her husband acted violently towards her when she came home from her meetings, beating her and even threatening to leave her.”They used to lock me in the house and my life was just doing the household chores and making beedis…Nothing was possible until Halima [an ActionAid member] started visiting our homeâ.

Once Arifa started her group training and gained valuable experience in the Domestic Violence Act, Muslim women land rights, and leadership training, things started to look up. Her husband and in-laws even attened some meetings and realised that the ActionAid group benefits not only women but the entire community.

Arifa states of the group, “All the women who are involved have realised the importance of joining the group. They have come out of their houses, they have realised the importance of learning about and asserting their own rights, they are applying for their entitlements all by themselves. Itâs not just me driving and leading them all the time â they themselves are becoming informed and doing things for themselvesâ.