Kanku Bai grew up in a family of six, consisting of three boys and three girls in the Nichla Talab village in Kherwara, Rajasthan. As a young girl, Kanku faced gender discrimination where she and her sisters had to herd cattle and her brothers went to school. She also assisted as a mid-wife for deliveries in her village. Married at seventeen, not much changed until she decided to attend Village Development Committee meetings held by Seva Mandir. The committee recommended Kanku as a traditional birth attendant for Seva Mandir’s training programme. Her in-laws objected, as they did not see any need for her to participate in this. They resisted when she attended weeklong trainings and just could not understand why she must leave the household. However, Kanku’s husband decided to support her and accompanied her to training sessions, witnessing first-hand the type of training she received. With time, Kanku Bai began to earn a salary, and her family finally began to appreciate the merit of her work.
Now, as a respected member of her community, Kanku Bai reflects on the injustice she faced as a young girl. Today, she has educated all four of her children, including both of her daughters. With some experience in assisting with deliveries as a mid-wife, Kanku Bai decided to work with Seva Mandir in advocating antenatal care, assisting in aseptic deliveries in the home and promoting institutional delivery by travelling with women to hospitals. Quote:“I feel honored that my work as a traditional birth attendant gives me an opportunity to help save the lives of both women and newborns. The respect I have earned in my community has allowed me to motivate other mothers to care for their daughters.”