Her story explains how the committee has benefited when it proposed her as its leader. In her own words “my leadership in the committee has encouraged many other women in the community to participate in SRACAD project. With male member as a leader, neither women are specifically encouraged, nor do they have motivation to participate or have access to relevant information on risk reduction”. As a woman leader she is particular that information about preparedness reaches out to women who are the primary care takers of their families.
It is the first time that the community has seen a woman in the leadership role. Although belonging to upper strata of the community, being a teacher, she is well known to all segments of the society. “My being a teacher makes me impartial and sensitive to all my students: Girls or boys, rich or extremely poor. My job as a teacher is to impart knowledge, to lead and to motivate. The committee leader also needs the same attributes” she says with a smile.
Under Seema’s leadership, women have started coming out of their houses to seek information and attend meetings called by her; they are more informed on how to respond to the disasters with the support of the task forces formed for search and rescue and first aid services. Not only limited to the given mandates of the project, she has embedded health care education for women and girls within the project activities itself. “It is all about giving information and sensitizing them” she says. These activities are conceived with a higher motivation to integrate women of all strata and do not need additional resources, she further adds. The health and hygiene education has become a powerful entry point to motivate more women and girls to join in the risk reduction education under SRACAD project.
Seema shares that:
The perception of men has changed about women’s capacities in the committee that I lead. Although I still have challenges in taking the final decisions where men’s decisions still prevail, things are changing gradually and men have started listening seriously when I talk in the capacities of a leader. According to her “the opportunities for participation and capacities to analyze and clearly articulate their concerns and priorities among women, and the capacities of men to listen to them seriously and act upon them, only will make women and men and girls and boys in any community resilient. SRACAD has provided a wealth of opportunities and means to us; now it is for us to take forward what we have learnt. We are hopeful that we will sustain the momentum initiated by the project.