Window to the changing identity of women

Willing to carve a niche for themselves through grit and indomitable spirit, women from all walks of life are seeking to establish their identity as a force to reckon with. The best thing is that women from economically weaker sections too are coming forward to carve a niche for themselves. The Delhi pavilion, at the ongoing 34th India International Trade Fair (IITF), celebrates the spirit of such women.

Ruksana is the head of the Self Help Group, Samajik Suvidha Sangam, under Mission Convergence at JJ Colony, Bawana. She learned the art of handmade jewellery from her husband who is in the handicraft industry and utilised the same craft to earn money for herself.

“I learned the art when I realised that it can help me earn a livelihood. Through Samajik…I got a chance to do something of my own in life. Today, there are 16 poor women working under me,” she tells Metrolife.

Her financial independence has instilled enough confidence in her to take part
in social activities too. “We got a girl married who lost her parents. We also donated Rs 600 for Kashmir flood relief fund. It is an amazing feeling.”

Uma, on the other hand, got a chance to give an edge to her talent of making papier-mâché dolls with the help of government loans. “Seeing artisans showcasing their work at Dilli Haat, I too had the desire to have a stall of my own. From there, I got a chance to meet people from Delhi SC/ST/OBC/Minorities/Physically Handicapped Finance & Development Corporation, who mentioned about easy availability of loans,” says the 52-year-old, who has put up her own stall of paper craft at the Delhi pavilion.

For last three years she has been putting up stalls in different exhibitions after getting a loan of Rs one lakh. “I have paid the loan as there is no end to demand and supply,” she smiles. “Through this I’ll have my own home one day,” she says emphatically.

Even Delhi Tourism stalls of Dastkar Nature Bazar demonstrates the unstoppable and unwavering entrepreneurial spirit of women. Laila Tyabji, the chairperson of Dastkar NGO mentioned that the work environment for women in the country has become better. There is more acceptability and hence easier for them to break into different industries or professions.

“We are working for more than 30 years now and there are many stories worth sharing. One of them that comes to mind is of bonded labour in Bihar. Here, women were wo­rking as a bonded labour for a loan of Rs 500, which they hadn’t been able to pay for the past 20 years. We took them into our care, trained them in spinning and weaving and imparted design inputs. Today, they are sitting at Andheria Modh and earning good amo­unt of money,” says Tyabji.

Women can be seen practising Sindhi embroidery and showcasing handicraft produ­cts at these stalls. “Many wo­men had earlier worked at Bhati mines (now closed down by the government) and were imparted training to pursue their artistic interests. They are taught embroidery on silk and khadi handlooms as an entrepreneurial opportunity to grow,” says one of the representatives at the stall.

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