Odisha's fairy godmother: Child bride-turned-social worker now an MP
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Odisha's fairy godmother: Child bride-turned-social worker now an MP

By Theweek calender  05-Jun-2019

Odisha's fairy godmother: Child bride-turned-social worker now an MP

The morning of March 18 was quite momentous for 70-year-old Pramila Bisoi. This simple mausi (aunt) from the village of Chermaria village in Ganjam district of Odisha was nominated on that day as the BJD candidate from the Aska constituency, from where Naveen Patnaik himself started his political career. Bisoi won from Aska by a margin of over 2 lakh votes against her nearest opponent, Anita Subhadarshini of the BJP. At the age of five, Pramila was married to Banchanidi Bisoi, who retired as a fourth-class employee of the state irrigation department. They have two sons, two daughters and 17 grandchildren. Having only studied till Class 3, Pramila became popular as a representative for Mission Shakti, a self-help group for the women of Odisha. Pramila started small-scale cultivation of her family land to support her family. Her first experience with public work started when she formed a group to protect the Padiki Hill near her village, by restoring its depleted forest cover. Due to the efforts of the group, the forest is now a famous peacock habitat. Around two decades ago, Pramila formed the Satasankha Swayam Sebika Sangha self-help group with a view to make women self-reliant through savings, cottage industry and protection of environment. Later, Pramila went on to found around 100 SHGs. Lovingly known as Pari Ma (fairy godmother), Pramila now heads around 3,500 women SHGs in Aska district.

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