"Every adversity is an opportunity," said 21-year-old Subhadra Mohanty who hails from Bandola in Odisha's Jajpur district. The sole breadwinner in a family of four, Subhadra has been following the road less travelled and does not conform to the stereotypical gender roles to earn a living.
When girls of her age are confined to the household chores particularly in rural areas, Subhadra, an arts graduate, took up multiple jobs including the labour-intensive task of growing paddy, dairy collection, mushroom farming, operating a rice huller machine and flour mill for her bread and butter. She also teaches children of her village.
"In 2015, my father took a loan of ₹50,000 from some money lenders in our village for my brother's admission to an engineering college. But he could not repay the amount due to crop loss and other adversities. We could not pay the electricity dues of our rice huller as a result of which, power connection to it was snapped a year later. Our income had come to a standstill as there was very little earning from the dairy collection," the young woman told The New Indian Express.
Subhadra narrated that due to financial constraints the family struggled to make ends meet. She, then, stepped in to shoulder the responsibility of paying off the loan and to earn a decent livelihood for them.
"Since I was pursuing Plus Two then, I decided to offer tuition to school children in my village," she explained.
She started providing tuition classes to some children in their houses and over the next few months, the reach grew and as many as 40 students began coming to her for classes. She divided them into batches and continued the teachership stint till she saved enough money to repay the loan last year. While she started carrying out farm-related activities, she also set up a flour mill and eventually diversified to start a small scale mushroom cultivation in her house.
Speaking about a typical day in her life, Subhadra said that she is an early riser and hence her day starts at 5 am with a visit to the agricultural land. After returning home at 9 am, she completes her daily chores and sets out to collect milk from cowherds of four neighbouring villages which she supplies to a dairy company. She then operates the rice huller and flour mill units from 11 am to 6 pm and during her two-hour-long lunch break, she inspects work at her mushroom farm.
She spends her evenings in giving tuition classes to village children. At the end of the month, she earns a profit of ₹30,000. Her brother, who has completed his engineering course, is now looking for a job outside the state.
"I managed to make the most out of the crisis that hit us five years back. I want other girls of my village to realise that they can also overcome adversities and become independent," said Subhadra who aims to become an entrepreneur and set up an orphanage and old age home in her village.
Interestingly, more and more young women are now breaking the social taboos and coming out of their homes to do what they love the most.
First Woman Driver Of Jammu And Kashmir
Pooja Devi is in her thirties and is the mother of three children. She, however, took it upon herself to break the stereotype and ferried passengers on Jammu-Kathua route for the first time on Thursday, December 24.
"I always wanted to become a bus or truck driver. I always dreamt of driving heavy vehicles since I was a kid. I come from a very poor family. My father was a farmer. My family wasn't able to educate me, but I decided to take up driving as a career," said Pooja.
Speaking about the hardships faced during her journey, including opposition from family and husband, she said that her spouse was of the opinion that 'driving was not a good profession for women', but she wanted to pursue her dreams.
"Initially, I used to drive cars, then I became a driving instructor at a driving school. I also used to drive taxis. Then, I decided to drive heavy vehicles. Rajinder Singh Ji taught me truck driving. I'm very grateful to him. There was a time when I felt that no one would give me a bus to drive. But Jammu-Kathua Bus Union reposed faith in me," she added.
Transwoman Breaks Glass Ceiling, Sets Up Her Own Cafe
27-year-old Urooz Hussian is an employee-turned-entrepreneur from Bihar. She set up her cafe named 'Street Temptation' in Uttar Pradesh's Noida at Sector 119.
Describing the idea behind the cafe, she said that it was to inspire members from her community to work towards earning a dignified living. Urooz shared that she had experienced workplace harassment which led her to establish her own business to promote a culture of equality.
"People always think all transgenders just beg, clap and are sex workers. But this is far from truth," she pointed out.
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