Kerala’s Safdar Hashmi Memorial Library, formed in 1988 immediately after the theatre artist was shot dead in Delhi, has a women’s wing which is creating waves across the state through innovative methods as well as by lending helping hands to them in every possible way.
The library has over 14,000 books and is the main cultural hub of Mayyil in Kannur district, the home district of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The women’s group, which is a part of the library, is into women empowerment, women entrepreneurship, training for competitive examinations, developing financial independence among women, increasing women’s participation in culture, art and theatre and developing reading habit among women.
The ‘Streevedi’ or the women’s group has also been actively involved in spreading awareness on menstrual cleanliness and ‘menstrual cup’ among women.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) clinics have also been conducted to spread awareness on power conservation among women. Later, the LED clinics were transformed into LED bulb making projects.
Rishna, the panchayat president of Mayyil and one of the key operators of the women’s wing, told IANS: “More than a library, we have transformed this place into a cultural platform for women, promoting women entreprenuers, financial independence of women, creating awareness among women on menstrual hygiene and environment hazards caused by sanitary napkins.” “We are also into making of masks, hand sanitisers, room cleaning liquid solutions which are our main revenue earning models,” she added.
The library is meeting the incidental expenses of the woman librarian who moves in a two wheeler and connects with 200 homes per week.
Another major feature of the library is the initiative to conduct group reading and reading collectives.
Rishna said, “This is to create an awareness among the general public as to how serious we are and how important reading is.” Initially, the local people were sceptical about the women centric programmes, but of late everything has changed and they now feel that what the women’s group is doing is an effective step towards the society at large.
Radhakrishnan, who is from the Mayyil panchayat, told IANS, “Those women who would spend their leisure time watching serials are much advanced now. They are now reading classics, making paper bags, LED bulbs, cleaning materials and masks which are sold in the market, fetching them a good amount besides helping to make the project a huge success.”