Women empowerment in Jammu and Kashmir was not less than a challenge for the Indian government, but the measures taken so far have brought laurels and also proved fruitful as many of the young girls instead of sitting idle at home, have managed to set up their own units where they earn their livelihood.
The young girls with the active support of the government scheme UMEED through the J-K Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKRLM) have proved themselves within the society. Defeating many odds, the girls have not only stood against the critics, but they managed to break the stereotypes in the Valley by preferring the “male-dominated” jobs, receiving appreciation from every nook and corner.
The famous delicacies in Kashmir, known as ‘Wazwan’, are being served to the people, especially on marriages, engagements and other special occasions. The one who prepares Wazwan is known as ‘Waza’ (Chef).
It was a male-dominated job, but nearly half a dozen girls from the Ganderbal district are breaking the stereotypes and have engaged themselves in the profession and earned their name as well.
These young girls from central Kashmir’s anderbal district are serving famous delicacies to people on special occasions.
“It was something new for the people as so far only males would prepare the Wazwan. At the beginning of our journey, we were criticized by the people and also faced many odds. With the passage of time, everything changed as the family, as well as the society, started appreciating us,” Ishrat Irshad, one of the girls said.
“It was all with the support of NRML’s UMEED that they have been able to achieve their goal and also become an example for the girls, who aspire to achieve their dreams. As time passes, we are not being invited to the functions like engagements, marriages and other events where we prepare food for the guests,” she said.
These girls are presently getting appreciation at a first-of-its-kind Sale of Articles and Rural Artisan Society (SARAS) event, being organized for 11 days at the Boulevard area of Srinagar.
Besides the girls from Ganderbal, there are many carts and every cart has a different story of women empowerment.
In another instance, the young girls from Srinagar outskirts have also preferred a male dominant job as they sell the famous barbeques and other fast-food items.
Barbeques in Srinagar are one of the fast foods that sell hot cakes every day. The young as well as old men install their carts at different places every day to sell the barbeques and other fast-food stuff.
However, it is for the first time that the girls have become engaged in selling barbeques and other food items on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Unlike the men who sell fast food on roads and in restaurants, these girls get orders for functions and events in bulk through which they earn their livelihood as well.
Mumtaza, one of the members of the self-help group was not sure whether they would get any response from the people. Still, as the people started relishing the barbeques prepared by them,they started getting calls almost every day, which helped them to set up their unit more vigorously.
The National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) assisted the girls to get trained, which has been proving fruitful for them.
The girls further appealed to other women not to think about the future, but start their journey at the earliest to achieve their dreams.
“There is nothing impossible. We (females) can do anything, but there should be a will. Anyone, who wants to touch the sky, has to come out of her home and start afresh to achieve the target,” they said.
Pertinently, while inaugurating the 11-day National level fair SARAS (Sale of Articles and Rural Artisan Society) on the banks of world famous Dal Lake Near Ghat No- 8 Boulevard Road, the Mission Director Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihood Mission (JKRLM), Indu Kanwal Chib had said that there are many platforms where the women are being skilled in both farm and non-farm skills.
She also said that 40,000 women are already millionaires as they are earning more than one lakh a year and 65 per cent among them are entrepreneurs.