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Once Upon A Traffic Jam

Women empowerment is not only present in air-conditioned offices, posh board rooms, online petitions and conferences with keynote speakers. Often the concept thrives in the small rooms of households that we don't even consider.

The blaring horns and commotion were irritating me. I had forgotten to wear a scarf around my face. As a result, I was inhaling the dust and vehicle fumes while stuck in the traffic. No one could be blamed as I had dared to take the auto at peak office hours.

Already 30 minutes had passed.

Suddenly, my co-passenger asked me in a nervous voice- “Didi, do you work in a software company?” Till then, I had paid no attention to who was sitting by my side seat. I turned to look at the source of the question. She was a bespectacled young woman with a toddler in her lap. Clad in a worn out sari, she was the kind of woman whom you would find everywhere, at the local shop, while crossing the street, the cleaning maid…

I answered in the affirmative. I was kind of surprised as I had seldom seen such self-assurance in such a woman.

She said, “I also started working this year at the local anganwadi.”

I was intrigued and asked further questions about her life.

She was one among four sisters. Her father worked as a peon. He got all the four sisters educated despite their mother’s disapproval. He considered it as an investment for his girls’ future and used to say, “It is not necessary that you have to work. But if you ever need to work, you should be equipped for it.”

Her two elder sisters worked as primary school teachers. She got married early and had a child. The opportunity for becoming an anganwadi worker came to her when she had gone for a routine check-up to the doctor. She overheard the nurses discussing about the new Government jobs where even women from the village can also apply. The candidate had to be a Secondary pass from a recognized board.

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The job was conducive for her as it was in her own village and she could take her child along. Her salary supplemented her family income and her family was extremely supportive.

The blockade on the street cleared in a few minutes.

Women empowerment is not only present in air-conditioned offices, posh board rooms, online petitions and conferences with keynote speakers. Often the concept thrives in the small rooms of households that we don’t even consider. The girl who does not have the English medium education, is not wearing Western clothes but clad in a yard long sari and has a child to look after is also empowered. The mother-in-law who cares for the children when the girl goes to work in the garment factory or maybe the local beauty parlour is empowered. Or the illiterate women who wake up at 5 in the morning, does all the chores herself and sets out for daily work as a housemaid too is empowered.

Mostly sidelined, many times overlooked, these are the women who portray the real empowerment of women which is happening in the country. May their tribe increase.

 

Image via Pixabay

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