Fighting against all odds, these young women proved their mettle in the jobs that are usually handled by men.
Today, they are pillars of strength and support for their families. Divorced by husband over unfulfilled dowry demand, Tabassum Bano, then 19, along with her six-month-old son left her village in Pratapgarh district for Allahabad to jump into the Yamuna in 2007.
But destiny had something else for her in store. Some members of an NGO came to her rescue and offered her work in their office. After a year, she mustered courage and hired a cycle rickshaw. That was how she became the first woman auto rickshaw driver of Allahabad.
“I drove the cycle rickshaw everywhere and saved every penny. I bought an auto just a year ago. Today this auto rickshaw is my bread and butter and I am earning well as my auto is connected to Ola cab service. It supports my family including my aged mother, my brother’s wife, sister’s children and my son. Life is still tough but now we have hope,” smiles Tabassum, now 29, through her tears. Her son is also doing extremely well in a school run by the NGO.
She even educates women around her area about Ola. Many have followed in her footsteps and are financially independent now. In her 20s, Ankita Kesarwani took up her first job at the only all women Pink Petrol Pump in the city after her graduation. “I never felt shy in taking up the job at a petrol pump. There was some resistance in the family in the beginning but now they support me,” she adds with a glint of pride. “I can now support my studies. I also financially help my family. They now feel proud of me,” she says.
Sarita Tyagi, who also works with Ankita is of the same age, says, “We are a very strong team of girls. We know some self defence tactics but by the God’s grace we have not felt the need of using them till date.” “My family members were afraid of my security in the beginning. But now they support me. Family support is very important,” she says.