From driving taxis to tending bars, an increasing number of women in India are breaking into male bastions and asserting that they can be as good, if not better, at jobs that were traditionally perceived as being only for men.
Shanno, a widow and mother of three children, broke free from a stereotypical job and became a part of an all-woman cab service called Sakha in the national capital.
"I used to do stitching before becoming a cab driver, but doing this (driving) gives me more happiness. I feel that I can easily compete with men. I am no less," Shanno told IANS.
"I don't know why women are always expected to do things like making jams and pickles, and stitching. I wanted to do something different but higher income jobs are still male dominated," said Shanno's colleague Chandani.
Megha, a successful Mumbai-based disk jockey (DJ), said people in the beginning did not take her seriously since the profession was not considered an option for women. However, she soon proved her competence.
"Initially, because I was a girl, no one took me seriously. Everyone was extra critical of me. People thought that I would just come and go and not survive for so long but I was adamant about proving myself," said the 28-year-old.
"Six months down the line, I had mastered the art and had started doing well. That is when people started taking me seriously because I proved my capability through my work," she added.
With the society warming up to women with alternate professions and families supporting them with their decisions, today women have a plethora of career options to choose from.
Chennai-based S. Muthulakshmi is one of the increasing number of women not opting for a 9-5 job.
"One day I saw an article in the paper on bartending and I got interested. I was a little skeptical in the beginning, but when I showed the article to my husband he was all for me to take up a job as a bartender. He said that I could do whatever I want to as long as I like it," Muthulakshmi said.
"Everyone in my family too supported me with this decision because they had faith in me," she added.
S. Edison Amalraj, principal of the Indian Institute of Bartending in Chennai, said there has been an increase in the number of young women joining the profession.
"I'm happy that more and more girls are taking up this profession, which was earlier reserved just for males," he opined.
Monica David, senior cameraperson for Focus TV - an all women channel to be launched on March 8, said: "When I go in the field to cover news, sometimes it becomes difficult for me due to various external factors but then men too face similar hassles. I don't think I'm any less than men. I do my job with full determination."
With women moving beyond their league and successfully facing challenges not only among themselves but also from the opposite sex, women's empowerment is only set to increase.