Pawna Kumari

Pawna Kumari

Work area : Kangra and Mandi districts, Himachal Pradesh

Pawna belongs to a Kanet shepherd family of remotely located Bada Bhangal village in Himachal Pradesh. The region is largely inaccessible and has poor infrastructural facilities be it electricity, water supply or transportation. After completing her school education, she started working with women’s SHG in Kangra to revive Himachali traditional handloom. Along with taking care of her family, and trying to earn a living, she worked with women in the region who were engaged in the collection of wool and other dairy products, trying to create more livelihood opportunities for them.

The many nomadic and pastoralist communities have been facing adverse conditions due to restrictions on their livelihoods imposed in the forest regions. As protected areas, the rights of traditional grazing, and cultivation were strongly affected in the Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary. In 2008 Pawna became an active part of protests, trying to get public attention to these issues.

She slowly got involved with Kisan Sabha and took leadership, working alongside Akshay Jasrotia who mentored her to take up struggles led by local communities. Since then Pawna has led the federation of more than 100 villages and involved communities to take collective action.

She has also formed a union of pastoralists with the help of Kisan Sabha and named it Himachal Ghumantu Pashupalk Mahasabha for shepherd families across the state and fighting for their rights over the forest for seasonal grazing across the landscape. The sangathan has also mobilised efforts towards livelihood enhancement of the pastoral communities marketing their wool even to international markets.

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