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BHUBANESWAR: In what has turned out to be a rare feat, a tribal woman from Odisha’s Malkangiri district has been featured in Forbes India’s top self-made women-2024 list, alongside 22 other women from across the country.

Jayanti Buruda, 34, hailing from the Koya tribe, is a social worker and journalist combined into one.

“Thehonour came as a huge, huge surprise to me. Not in my wildest dreams had I hoped for such a recognition. It has made me more confident and that I am doing some good work,” said Jayanti.

Her journey has not been easy so far — neither when she started off, nor now. After completing her Masters in journalism and mass communication from Central University, Koraput, Jayanti, the ninth child among the 11 brothers and sisters, wanted to embark on her career path.

But she faced opposition at home. However, people in her area welcomed her journalistic queries as she was a familiar face and was highlighting their problems. Slowly, her parents started accepting her career choice and began appreciating it. Her sisters work as teachers, government officers, and police personnel.

Over the years, Jayanti and a team of young girls have voluntarily worked to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene among young girls in Malkangiri district in July 2019, opened a sanitary napkin bank in Jan 2024, and a library in Nov 2020 under the Bada Didi Union.

She has also founded Jungle Rani (forest queen) in May 2023, under which she trains young girls to voluntarily work as journalists and highlight issues like Forest Rights Act and tribal life and culture in Malkangiri district. She trains the girls in field reporting, script writing, and editing. So far, three batches of 15 to 30 girls have been trained. “It’s a volunteer base platform in which youths make videos of the issues in tribal areas and we upload those on our social media platform,” said Jayanti.

After almost five years, the Bada Didi Union is spread in all seven blocks of Malkangiri district and has over 100 members.

Following demands from girls in Bonda Ghati for a sanitary napkin bank, work is being initiated to set it up in the remote area.

“We want to have our own sanitary napkin-making machine and materials for which we require funds,” said Jayanti.

Also, Jayanti wants more for her library so that children can read during the summer vacation. “Most importantly, I want the youth to fruitfully utilise their precious time in the service of the society,” says Jayanti as she signs off.

  • Published On Mar 31, 2024 at 03:35 PM IST

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