This Woman Was Married off at 12. Today She Runs an All-Women Rural News Network

Kavita Devi runs Khabar Lahariya, a digital rural news network, with a team of 30 women reporters. She is the only dalit member of the Editor's Guild of India.

This article has been sponsored by MG Motor India.

Kavita Devi was born in Kunjan Purwa, a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, to a dalit farmer family. Married off at the age of 12, she received no formal education, but always had the drive to complete her education and make a difference.

The path she wanted to carve for herself was illuminated by an NGO that came to her village to open a centre for girls’ education. “Everyone was against it — my in-laws, the locals in our community, and even my own parents,” she recalls, adding, “I fought with everyone to achieve what I wanted.”

For six months after finishing her education, Kavita began working with Mahila Dakiya, a newsletter run by the same centre. This was her first stint as a reporter. “The newsletter was printed in Bundeli, and while it came out only once a month, everyone would wait for it with bated breath,” Kavita says. However, the newsletter was eventually shut, leaving her and several others in the community disappointed.

Working with Mahila Dakiya helped Kavita realise the importance of a local newspaper that covered and brought forth the stories of her community. With help from the Delhi-based NGO Nirantar, she began Khabar Laharya, a women-run newspaper, with the aim to cover local news that went largely unreported and neglected by mainstream media.

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“Why only women? Because, besides journalism, there are many other spheres and professions dominated only by men. It was important that we change this,” Kavita says.

Today, Kavita Devi is the only dalit member of the Editor’s Guild of India. Through Khabar Lahariya, she has brought together 30 women, especially from marginalised communities, to report on stories and reach out to around 10 million readers through multiple digital platforms.

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