Rural living, urbane thoughts

Rural living, urbane thoughts

Many rural women today are taking to cottage industry entrepreneurship, among other skilled occupations, not only to improve their livelihood and wellbeing, but also to better their social status, observes Gayathri Vasudevan. 

Rural India is no longer ‘rural’ in its thoughts, as contact and exposure with the more urbane way of living has raised the level of aspirations, showing great potential to emerge as power centres for cottage industry entrepreneurship. As a matter of fact, rural India has started to move ahead of many urban communities in its approach towards economic growth and sustainability. 

Rural women may not look up to great personalities or celebrities to draw their inspiration from; the adverse nature of their living challenges them and gets them going. The socio-economic setup, for women in the Indian villages, is, in itself, a key factor that turns them into entrepreneurs and employees as they start seeing possibilities in adversities. 

For Neelaben Muda, a housewife from a small village, 20km from Silvassa, the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, there was no looking back once she had made up her mind to become financially independent. The first step towards realising her dream was to equip herself with skills that would help her generate income. 

Neelaben attended a training centre in Silvassa, where she learnt tailoring. After a series of modules, she felt confident enough to start her own venture instead of opting for employment. She took a loan from a local financer and soon started her own tailoring business. Neelaben is now an independent and confident businesswoman, who is financing the education of her children. 

Several women, like Neelaben, are budding significantly in almost all villages of India. Rural women often, unknowingly, become entrepreneurs or take up jobs that can provide enough finances to support the education and wellness of their children.

Nowadays, with access to modern means of communication, rural women want to live a somewhat urbane life, for which they choose professions or venture into businesses that increase their spending power.

Gayathri is an apt example of this. A shy girl, she was raised in a poor family, from a village close to Chennai. Gayathri never had access to any formal education because her family of six had minimal resources to afford their basic necessities.

Her role was mainly restricted to household chores, since girls like her were, generally, not expected to generate any substantial family income. However, Gayathri heard about a beauty and hair care training programme in her village. She took up the new training, and to her delight, received hands-on education. Later, despite much resistance from the family, Gayathri managed to get a job in a beauty parlour in a nearby village.
 
She now earns at least Rs 3,500 a month all by herself; an income higher than her previous total family income! She does not wish to get married any time soon, unlike her elder sisters who were married off at a very young age, and intends to open her own parlour.

This has helped her gain an important status not just in the family, but in the entire village.A new wave of optimism runs in our country’s villages today, with such paradigm shift in the role of rural women.

However, the employment challenges are still difficult to address, mainly due to socio-cultural barriers. Therefore, it is important for each and every one of us, the urban women, to create more opportunities for our rural peers.

Of course, many women have already taken up cudgels in this regard; let us hope several more will follow.

(The writer is the CEO of LabourNet Services India Pvt Ltd)

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