Canadian Geographic: Educational Program Empowering Women in Rural India

A member of the Mahila Samakhya program outside her home in Sangur Panchayat, Karnataka. Women who joined the program are helping India’s Centre for Budget and Policy Studies evaluate its effectiveness. (Photo: Courtesy of the Institute for Financial Management and Research LEAD)

A member of the Mahila Samakhya program outside her home in Sangur Panchayat, Karnataka. Women who joined the program are helping India’s Centre for Budget and Policy Studies evaluate its effectiveness. (Photo: Courtesy of the Institute for Financial Management and Research LEAD)

Just outside the city of Muzaffarpur in the Indian state of Bihar, a middle-aged woman named Vibha works as a stonemason in a production plant. Without knowing the context, there would be nothing remarkable about this situation — after all, women are paid to work physical jobs around the world every day. But not here, where women don’t often have the education and training required to earn money for themselves. Vibha is known locally as “the first woman mason.” The fact that she has a job — let alone one traditionally held by men — was a social breakthrough in her community. Read More.