Working as a lawyer in the District Courts of Aurangabad, Maharashtra for close to 5 years, Parveen noticed that 80% of the people coming to court were from rural areas. They were usually illiterate and would travel long distances, spending time and money, simply to be told that they need to come again at a later date.
There was a flicker of anger in her eyes when she said, “There is a lot of corruption. Everyone is out to make money; no one is willing to help.” This was the primary reason why she quit.
“I could’ve joined the corporate sector if I wanted to,” she says, “but I wanted to get close to people. As a junior lawyer, people usually don’t trust you as much as senior lawyers. I wanted to be able to gain that trust from the people.” It is for this experience that she joined the SBI Youth for India Fellowship programme.
During her fellowship, Parveen was assigned to Dang district in Gujarat and was working in association with Dhruva – BAIF. Her fellowship program was on creating awareness amongst the tribal women of Dang about malnutrition and legal rights.
She worked closely with women from Self Help Groups (SHG) and conducted training programmes on nutrition, general health and hygiene. She would spread awareness about various government schemes for the benefit of these women, for e.g. widows’ pension, old age pension, and legal rights.
She maintained documentation at every step of her fellowship, so that it would help in analysis. She undertook various mini-projects such as health awareness, training women on legal proceedings, and fund management.
Today, Parveen is a Coordinator for Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Ahmedabad. SEWA is a non-profit organisation that works towards training women for full employment, to enable them to have job security and a steady income. Full employment would ultimately mean social security as well, in terms of health care, child care, and shelter for these women.
Parveen’s passion for initiating change is what keeps her going; she works in several areas of social development, including women empowerment, child education, and prevention of farmer suicides.