Tag Archives: Women Empowerment

The Journey of a grassroot feminist change maker

Born in a conservative community of Babaji’s (priests) of Gujarat, where girls are married off at tender age and education is a far cry for them, here is Mital, the bold and enthusiastic women, about to get inducted in the Gujarat police force due to her father’s unflinching support in wake of strong resistance from relatives and within the community. Mital in her twenties is from rural areas the sleepy town of Somnath in Junagadh, thrilled with joy and satisfaction for making it to the Gujarat State police forces after years of sustained efforts. Her father retired from service, and at present works as a temple priest. Her mother is a home maker, has 2 older sisters and one brother. She studied throughout from Gujarati medium. Babaji community has strong patriarchal influence, which does not encourage girls to educate themselves. Such regressive and backward thinking leads to young girls getting married off at a tender age, even before they attain puberty. So when her father decided to educate Mital and two other sisters, he had to face stiff opposition from his relatives but they did not toe their line and chose to educate them.

MitalAfter School, she decided to become police personnel, but there was lack of guidance. She pursued Masters of Social work, besides that she even appeared for police entrance again but could not clear the physical test because of lack of preparation. She joined a government NGO in Kutch near the Indo-Pak border as a community mobilizer after masters but her work was cut short, as her family felt the remote location was unsafe for her, so she came back.

After returning, when she was searching for jobs, she faced issues like eve-teasing her locality. Her work with the NGOs had changed her outlook towards such issues a lot, otherwise earlier her reaction would have been of indifference. She felt that the youth needs to be sensitized towards such issues and they should take the initiative. This led to her joining the Youth Force started by Saath, with a vision of empowering the urban slum youth. She got the chance of planning and implementing diverse activities for youth development as a member and in the capacity of a city coordinator of Rajkot. During her work she found numerous issues of gender biases in the community, which affected her work with the youth groups and especially female members who were not allowed to participate freely. The leadership training, workshops and trips along with the experience of youth force transformed her into a feminist youth change maker.

She again started preparing for the competition and the challenge was even tougher this time on, since she was working simultaneously. She clearly planned out her daily schedule keeping in mind her strengths and grey areas. After following the tough schedule for 6 months, she was selected as armed constable by the selection committee. Mital proudly says, “There is no alternative to hard work. Success comes only to those who work hard for it. Success comes to those who relentlessly move on irrespective of challenging circumstances. Without the support of my parents, and the exposure at Saath, it would not have been possible.” Mital looking back in the past says, “If my father had not taken a stand for us, then even I would have been married off at tender age without any life of my own and led a life like any other girl in our community. Mital plans to prepare for the civil service exams, which is her next milestone.

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MNC petrol pump hires 18 women trainees of Women@Work

women@work-1Under Women@work, vulnerbale women are trained for non-traditional trades such as electrician, mobile repairing and petrol pump service for acquiring a meaningful employment or start their own micro-enterprise. The programme was started in June 2015, has trained 72 women and 92 are undergoing training right now.

Recently Women@work, successfully placed 18 women trainees at a Petrol Pump in Ahmedabad. The welcome gesture of this MNC petrol giant, has grabbed the attention of the passers-by at the petrol pump. One of them is Neema Ben (Name has been changed), who has been hired, despite the fact that her husband is suffering from HIV AIDs. Her husband lost his job and she is the sole bread earner now taking care of the entire family. She will be getting a salary of Rs. 8,500/- which will help her sustain her family needs, especially when the family is going through tough times. The program has been successful to bring change in the mind-set of some, as we see in this case the recruiters have thought beyond conventional norms and stereotypes for promoting work place equity and the right to work irrespective of gender and health issues.

Women@work

Neema Ben defies societal baises to work for sustaining her family!

Khodiyar nagar is a small slum pocket with 4,000 households in Behrampura, Ahmedabad. Mostly people there are involved in labour work and auto driving for a living. Neema ben, 25 years old also lives in this area with her husband and mother-in-law. She has two daughters and one son. Her elder daughter is studying in 1st standard and younger daughter is studying in Aanganwadi. Her son is 2 years old. Neema ben and her husband Kailash bhai have both studied till 8th standard. Kailash bhai was working in one of the shop with a salary of Rs. 6,000 per month. Two years back Kailash bhai was diagnosed of AIDS, as a result he couldn’t continue his work. The family is in financial crunch as Kailash Bhai’s medical expenses are increasing day by day. All the responsibilities suddenly came upon Neema ben Ben’s shoulders, so she started searching for work. Neema ben’s mother-in-law also started labour work at this ripe age. By the stroke of luck, in November 2015, Neema ben met the Mobilization team of Women@Work Programme of Saath focused on training women in non-traditional trades. Neema ben keenly acquired the information about the program, and she saw a ray of hope for her family’s future, thus joined the 15 days training. She got hired at Petrol Pump along with 18 other women near her area after her training. She has a 9 to 6 job with a salary of Rs. 8,500 per month. Neema ben says with a sense of satisfaction, “Women@work has not only shown me a way for solving all the problems of my family but also it has empowered me to stand on my own feet”. (Names of the beneficiaries have been changed)