Born in the remote village of Pantripatra, in Madhya Pradesh, Bisto Bai, 32, seemed to have all the cards stacked against her. She belongs to the “Tribal Gond” community, considered a low cast community, oppressed, tortured and exploited over the centuries. As a child, her family could not pay for her education so Bisto Bai was “married off” at 17 to a young man of 20. Being his husband a jobless, she started making fans and brooms to earn a few extra rupees and offer the minimum to her two children.
In 2015, she joined a self-help village group (SHG) under the Economic Justice Project and started saving, and attending various workshops and trainings to become a self-sufficient goat-rearing woman. Bisto’s thriving goat modern farm has ensured that her family has plenty to eat round the year and she gained the respect of her fellow women, who consider her as a role model.
Bisto Bai started then mobilizing the women of her community about their rights, capacities, health, and education. According to Bisto, “a woman aware of her capacities can work wonders”. She was appointed the President of a a co-operative formed with 150 women, named Dindayal Antyodoy Mahila Bahu Uddesshiya Sahakari Samiti (Development of Women Multi-purpose Co-operative Society), which helps women farmers to improve and multiply their business and carries out a programme of health, education and social education.
Bisto is now a key figure in the social, political, cultural and economic development of the women of her village. Also the tribal community of Panitripatra as a whole aspires a great future under her leadership.
Bisto Bai is candidated to the 2019 Women Stop Hunger Award, that gives international recognition to the role of rural women in the fight against hunger and encourage initiatives led by women aiming to achieve food security and increase economic development in local communities.