In the wee hours of the morning, my journey began, winding through the roads that led to Rajpipla in Narmada (Gujarat) where I was about to witness first hand, a remarkable transformation catalysed by more than 200 extraordinary women known as SuPoshan Sanginis. These women, as the distinguished ambassadors of the Adani Foundation’s SuPoshan project, have proved to be the driving force behind the metamorphic changes in terms of nutrition and holistic health.
I was on my way for a programme that celebrated the success of SuPoshan project over the last five years in the aspirational district of Narmada. The event was graced by the Adani Foundation’s chairperson Dr. Priti Adani and executive director Vasant Gadhavi. Our entry into this profound experience began with the vibrant hues of a welcome dance and the melodic notes of a tribal song echoing through the air. It was a moment where the richness of tribal culture gracefully gave way to the anticipation of the dialogues that were to unfold.
It is my firm belief that the Foundation’s intervention has not merely created ripples but has fundamentally reshaped the social fabric of communities. Nestled in the remotest corners of this district, these tribal women – once secluded within the challenging terrain of their homes as well as the confines of traditional mindset, have personified meaningful socio-economic empowerment.
For each of them, initiating their journey as a SuPoshan Sangini was a formidable task. The undulating hilly terrain, the vast distances between houses, and the scarcity of resources were significant hurdles. But their dedication was nothing short of exemplary. Their zeal to overcome obstacles, coupled with a thirst for knowledge, set the stage for a transformation that started within them and spread to community members around them. They were charged with the responsibility of combating malnutrition in each household in an entire village, sometimes even two or three villages.
These women, once confined by societal norms, not only gained confidence and knowledge but also bought a substantial boost in financial ability. The structured training modules provided by the Foundation, addressing malnutrition and health concerns, firstly served as a gateway towards self-empowerment and secondly towards financial independence. Armed with knowledge and financial acumen, they brought change at household and village level.
Their roles within the household underwent a profound shift. No longer relegated to only traditional duties, these Sanginis appeared as decision-makers and strong position holders. Their financial prowess became a pillar of strength, shaping a home environment where choices were collaborative, and forward-looking.
During our one-day trip for this programme, we as a team engaged in candid conversations over lunch, where the SuPoshan Sanginis shared not only their successes but also openly discussed the challenges they faced, be it the initial resistance at home or outside from the society. It was heartening to hear how this initial resistance turned into admiration form the society and support from the family, especially the spouse, so that they could carry out their responsibilities. This sharing of experiences fostered a sense of shared purpose and solidarity within the 200+ SuPoshan Sanginis. Their collective empowerment is clearly a step forward in establishing gender equality, or at least sparking a conversation in that direction.
The journey took us further as we visited the homes of few beneficiaries and Sanginis across two distant hills, meeting their families and seeing the positive impact their empowerment had on their households. The previously limited role experienced a significant transformation in terms of confident communication, graceful movement, storytelling. They have fostered a deep understanding of dietary habits leading to the improvement in the health conditions of the entire family. It was heart touching to see these women working enthusiastically to sustain this change or let me quote an empowered resource empowering more women with their radiance. To see a Poshan Vatika (kitchen garden) in their backyard – a tangible representation of their commitment to nutrition and health – symbolized the flourishing of a healthier community with easy access to seasonal foods at their doorstep.
These women, now positioned as leaders, have become indispensable guides for the entire community. Their stories of triumph over adversity, shared with an open heart, became beacons of inspiration for others. Witnessing this collective strength was a moment of pride and joy for the project team and the leaders at the Foundation.
The smiles of hundreds of Suposhan Sanginis and thousands of women and children reflect the triumph of dedication, resilience, and a newfound financial acumen—a powerful testament to the indomitable spirit of Narmada district. It was even more gratifying that this was just a glimpse of the larger transformation that is shaping up well beyond Narmada – in 13 more CSR sites across 11 states in the country. It was a memorable day where all forces converged but at the centre was the confidence and radiance of our SuPoshan Sanginis.