The power to create life is only present in women and in soil. At Beforest, we are lucky enough to be working with both. While we have spoken about soil on many occasions, we rarely touched upon the women behind the collectives. Take for instance Pushpa who works at the Poomaale Estate. First of all, she is the mother to two school going kids who need to be cooked and packed a meal before 9 am. She also has to make sure the breakfast supplies and utensils are all intact before her husband (the cook) gets started with the morning routine for the staff. It doesn’t stop there. She has taken on the onus of taking care of Laxmi and Harshad – our cattle. This means, clearing out their shed and milking Laxmi in the mornings. To be honest, when I first heard of this, it sounded like an entire day’s work but this is just her pre 10 am routine. Because, after that, she also participates in the plantation activities of picking coffee beans.
Pushpa is not alone. She is one of the many women at Poomaale, who brave the back breaking hours, the bugs and the bees to bring to us some of the best tasting coffee in the country. All of this is done with a smile on their face and none of the airs of a super woman. That is why at all our collectives, we have equal pay for men and women. Sure the men do more physically intensive work, but the level of commitment shown by the womenfolk and the energy that they bring to the table cannot be ignored.
We have also started an interesting initiative at our Hyderabad Collective, where in we are offering opportunities to vulnerable women groups like widows, single moms, etc. And by that we don’t just mean jobs, but also empowerment opportunities like skillset addition in overlapping spheres like bee keeping, jam making etc. These groups are generally either overburdened with responsibilities or are ostracised by social pressure. We thought of using our collective as a platform to create a win-win situation.
These are still early days, but we are quite certain that women like Pushpa have played a vital role in shaping the collective. So cheers to that and the incredible spirit with which our women move towards achieving our common goal.