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March 7, 2017
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We all know that the world is a difficult place to live in. Every day there are new hurdles and challenges thrown at us. On top of that, if you are a woman, you know that history hasn’t exactly been on your side. Women, in fact, are seen as ‘ahistorical figures’ i.e., located outside of history. There are innumerable instances of gender violence, immolation, infanticide and so on which have oppressed women for centuries. In fact, a few months earlier, UN officially recognised India as a place where female genital mutilation is practised.
For every story of struggles and hurdles, there are many instances of bravery and tenacity. Over the years, we have seen many women who have fought back and took it upon themselves to rewrite their story. Here is a look at a few brave stalwarts who have proved that being a woman is a boon, not a bane.
Hers is a typical rags to riches story. Thirty odd years ago, she was in-charge of a small mobile cart at Marina beach in Chennai trying to make a living out of selling eateries. Her personal life was a sham as well-her husband was an addict and she had two kids to raise. Fast forward to present and she owns a chain of restaurants. From walking to travelling in auto rickshaws to buying her own car, Patricia has come a long way. Unlike the Tatas, Birlas or Ambanis, Patricia had started own small-with merely two people helping her with her business. As she looks back on those days, she advices young people to never compromise on quality and to never lose their self confidence. She was also recently awarded the Ficci Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Well deserved, we say!
We won’t be surprised if you have already heard the inspiring story of this larger than life lady. Once an agricultural labourer whose daily wage was Rs. 5, Jyothi now own hers own consultancy in the US. She was born in a poverty-stricken family with too many mouths to feed, leading her family to enrol her in an orphanage. There, she started her journey of struggle and learnt the value of discipline and persistence. As luck would have it, she was married at the young age of 16 and found herself with two children before she could realise it. From that time, she worked as an agricultural labourer, an NYK volunteer, finished her graduation and post graduation while working almost two jobs every day. A visit from a relative from the US gave birth to fresh aspiration in her as she learnt computers to gain eligibility to work there. Enrolling her daughters in a missionary school she left for the land of dreams, where first she had to work as a babysitter and at gas stations to make ends meet. It was only during a visit to Mexico that she got an idea for a startup. With her savings of $40000 she opened her company, KEYSS, in Phoenix and still runs it successfully.
Born to the much oppressed Dalit caste in rural Rajasthan, Nauroti had to face a tremendous amount of pressure. She worked as a stone cutter and also issued the clarion call to fight for proper wages. Through sheer hardwork, she worked her way up the ranks and is now a sarpanch at Hardma village. For anyone who has faced caste or gender discrimination their life, Nauroti is a symbol of reverence.
A Dalit like Nauroti, Kalpana attempted suicide at a very age to put an end to her subjection. She was then married off at the tender age of 12 where she found herself to be a victim of abuse. Finally rescued by her father, she started working in a garment factory to support herself. From there, she started her own furniture venture and established a strong reputation for being a skilled entrepreneur. Such motivating is her story that she was awarded the Padma Shri by Pranab Mukherjee.
The CEO of Pepsi Co belongs to an average middle class Indian family. She moved to New York for higher studies but sadly had little money to get through. Working as a receptionist, she could pay her tuition and afford a suit to wear to her job interviews. With all the hard work in place, Nooyi worked at several consultancies in top positions before finally walking through the hallowed halls of Pepsi Co.
Women are not simply someone’s wife, daughter or mother. They are individuals in and of themselves with individual dreams. The persistent toil and success of these incredible women keep burning the beacon of hope for millions of other girls who one day hope to find their voice.