Rama Devi lost her husband a few years ago and is in dire need of a job. Illiterate and not interested in the usual "female-oriented" jobs like that of beauticians and tailoring, she came across an option that caught her fancy and is also in big demand - that of a female security guard.
Devi is just one of the 32 women in the Swami Sivananda Memorial Institute of Fine Arts and Crafts in East Punjabi Bagh in the capital who are getting trained to become security guards in malls, retail shops and the metro.
A pilot project under the Delhi government's Janashiksha Sansthan, if successful, this vocational course will then be introduced on a larger scale. And going by the response received from the first batch, which began training this April, this should be the case.
Sunita Bhasin, director of the institute, said that the response to the course has been phenomenal.
"Initially there was some hesitation. People are not very comfortable with the concept of women security guards. That's why we packaged the course a little differently and said that it was a physical education course with skill training in self defence," Bhasin told IANS.
Also, the fact that there is a huge demand for women security guards these days, encourages women to take up this course.
"Whether you go to the retail shops or malls or even the metro, the need for women security guards is huge now. With better job opportunity, this course has found a great appeal among both unmarried and married women," Rachna Kaushik, the trainer, told IANS.
But it's not just those women looking for a job who have enrolled for this course.
Pooja Sharma, a class 12 student, for instance said: "I had done a 15-day self-defence course in school which was conducted by Delhi Police. With this course, I want to brush up my skills".
For Ankita Thukral, another school student, this course is a means to improve her health and lose weight.
"The other USPs of this course is that it's just of six months duration and is free. The government gives Rs.20,000 (under the Janashiksha Sansthan) for any new course, and although equipments required for the course are expensive, we are managing," Bhasin said.
Delhi Police are also conducting a 15-day self-defence capsule course as a part of this curriculum.
"We will have two private security agencies coming over some time soon. Other than providing us with their guidance as to how to improvise to suit the job requirements, they will also help place the women in various jobs," Bhasin added.
The institute also has other vocational courses like stitching and tailoring, computer studies and a beautician's course. And to encourage married women to empower themselves, it also has a school, which is government aided and has classes up to 10.