Neeru Yadav The Hockey Wali Sarpanch

Neeru Yadav: The Hockey Wali Sarpanch

Success Stories Women

Lambi Ahir, a village in the Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan makes it to a lot of headlines nowadays because of a woman who decided to challenge the stereotypes. Neeru Yadav , famously known as the Hockeywali Sarpanch when came to the village after marriage, some stereotypes stirred something deep within her. Neeru noticed that the women of Lambi Ahir faced many challenges – no access to water, silenced voices, and a reluctance to approach the village sarpanch. 

With a desire to make a difference, Neeru entered into the world of politics and became the Sarpanch after winning the Rajasthan Panchayat elections in 2020. And that’s where the entire story began. In a candid conversation, Neeru shares her incredible journey, the challenges she faced and the story behind how she made an indispensable place in the hearts of her village as the ‘Hockey Wali Sarpanch.’

As the first female Sarpanch of Lambi Ahir, enlighten us on how this transformative chapter began for you.

Neeru Yadav, first female Sarpanch of Lambi Ahir

I became the Sarpanch of Lambi Ahir on October 3, 2020. Understanding the struggles of the women in the village, deprived of basic resources and hesitant to approach the Sarpanch for assistance, deeply moved me. I wanted to bring change, therefore I decided to contest elections for Sarpanch.

As my family has always been supportive, it feels like winning half the battle. As a Sarpanch today, I aim to create a positive change, ensuring that the women of Lambi Ahir have a voice, access to essential resources, and a Sarpanch they can approach without hesitation.

Today, everyone calls you ‘Hockey Didi’. How did you become interested in playing Hockey? How did you encourage girls in Lambi Ahir to practice the sport?

I was always interested in playing sports, especially Hockey. When I came to the village after my marriage, I understood that girls here don’t play hockey. Furthermore, I realised that girls in my village had played hockey in school and had stopped playing due to several situations. Winning the election strengthened my resolve to support the girls and become their support system. Even though it was difficult, many parents didn’t allow the girls to play. However, I encouraged them to start playing in the fields again. 

I wanted the girls to come out and play again. So, I met their parents and made them understand that girls can make their future in sports and that playing and studying are equally important. I encouraged these girls to play and used my salary to provide them with all the essentials. I feel proud to add that villagers also started pitching in and helped me create a hockey stadium for girls, and now they have a coach that trains them.

You gave your salary to create the hockey field. It is truly an example of your dedication. How do you get this motivation to help these girls? 

Neeru Yadav with women hockey team

I draw inspiration from my own experiences as a woman, having faced similar challenges and a lack of support. The profound impact of encouragement on women’s capabilities cannot be overstated. When women are provided with support, they flourish, building a strong foundation of confidence within them. When girls engage in sports, it not only exposes them to new experiences but also fosters a sense of empowerment.

Women from my village have grown confident by seeing me handling different things. Earlier, women would delegate responsibilities in the Panchayat to their husbands or sons, but now they are doing it themselves. I believe that playing Hockey or any game helps create a support system with other players and gain confidence to explore various things. Looking ahead, my vision for the Lambi Ahir girls’ hockey team is to see them proudly representing India on the international stage.

Initiatives Started By Neeru Yadav

As the Sarpanch of Lambi Ahir, Neeru Yadav has started many initiatives to uplift the lives of villagers. First and foremost is the ‘Sachhi Saheli Mahila Agro’, a Farmer’s Producer Organisation (FPO) that provides farmers with affordable fertilisers, seeds, and other essential materials. It empowers women farmers by providing them with a platform that enables the direct sale of their agricultural produce in markets, thereby boosting their livelihood.

Neeru also initiated the ‘Mera Ped Mera Dost’ campaign, under which the teachers and students of government schools planted more than 21,000 trees. She started the ‘Aditri Foundation’, to provide education to underprivileged girls. Her long list of initiatives also includes the establishment of a utensil bank, under which she distributed 5000 utensils free of cost at village functions to control plastic wastage in marriages.

Additionally, she is a strong advocate for education and skill development among the village girls. With the help of ‘Prime Minister Kaushal Vikas Yojana’ (PMKVY), she trained ten girls and helped them secure job placements in multinational companies. Furthermore, she helped enrol poor boys and girls who didn’t have any means of livelihood into the scheme so that they could develop new skills and get jobs to make themselves financially independent.

In collaboration with the State Bank of India, the Sarpanch launched an initiative under the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana. This initiative aims to empower parents with financial literacy and promote gender equality by encouraging them to invest in their daughter’s future. Through these diverse initiatives, Neeru Yadav, Hockey Wali Sarpanch, has become a guiding light of positive change, transforming Lambi Ahir into a place that values sustainability, education, and gender equality.

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