Munni Hembrom, (born 1969), Agnes Murmu (born 1962), and Agatha Baskey (born 1975) are trailblazers. They have shown courage and resourcefulness by setting up an organization that mobilizes women of the Santhal tribe, to which they belong. Their Ayo Aidari (women's rights) Trust works for the empowerment of women through women's organizations, fights for women's rights-such as property rights-and targets retrograde practices like witch-hunting, forced marriage, and bigamy among Santhals. It promotes sustainable agriculture, tree-planting, and forest and environmental protection.
Munni Hembrom, Agnes Murmu, and Agatha Baskey live and work in the Dumka district of Jharkhand state and together run the Ayo Aidari Trust. The organization mobilizes Santhal women, acting to enforce their rights. The trust works for the empowerment of women through women's organizations, fights for women's rights-such as property rights-and targets retrograde practices like witch-hunting, forced marriage, and bigamy among the Santhals. It promotes sustainable agriculture, tree-planting, forest protection, and protection of the environment by the community. It has set up mothers' committees to promote the education of children and helps establish primary health services at the village level. It also enhances the capacity of Santhal women to liaise with the government to initiate development programs in their areas. The activities of the Ayo Aidari Trust are funded with contributions from encouraging individuals. They have also built institutional collaborations with agencies like the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai, and the Pratichi (India) Trust, Shantiniketan. Ayo Aidari works with more than 5000 Santhal women. The trust's involvement in the lives of the villagers has brought visible changes. Women now participate in meetings and make decisions. Savings groups have been set up. While moneylenders still hover around, their role is diminishing. Debts have been reduced, and the freed land is being cultivated. The tribals now sell their products in the regular market. Women also have a better understanding of health issues, and pay for medical treatment with the savings they generate. Munni, Agnes, and Agatha started their work in five villages-now, they are in 40. They are continuously invited by other villages to work in them, and it is not hard to see why.
Ayo Aidari Trust