Between the toil at home and workplace, it’s just another day

Priyanka Pani Mumbai | Updated on January 13, 2018

Jayashree Sarmalkar (left) and Manisha are cooks who serve it up in multiple households in Versova, Mumbai   -  Priyanka Pani

“What is Women’s Day? Is this some festival? Where is it being held,” asks 27-year-old Jyostna, even as she is busy slicing a pomfret for a client. She belongs to the Koli community in a suburb from Versova, Mumbai and has been selling fish since she was 15. Jyostna dropped out of school in eighth grade to support her family of six. She was married at the age of 20, and had to work even harder, juggling her life between her household chores and her job.

She earns about ₹15,000 a month, a little more than what her husband earns as a storeman in a medicine shop.

When BusinessLine explained to her the significance of Women’s Day, Jyostna said: “Women are still tortured, objectified and raped everywhere, then what’s the use of this celebration? I think every woman should be financially independent and be mentally strong to be able to fight this male-dominated society,” she added, however, mentioning that her husband has been very supportive and respects her.

Jayashree Sarmalkar, a 31-year-old, also shares similar thoughts. She works as a part-time cook at four different houses a day and makes about ₹13,000 per month. She too is not aware about Women’s Day.

“I regret that I couldn’t complete my education. There was no one to guide us about the importance of education. I don’t want my daughters to lead this life. They should be able to tell you the significance of Women’s Day when they grow up,” Jayashree says with a big smile, adding that things have definitely changed when it comes to domestic violence and that her husband respects her a lot and helps in household chores too.

“Respect is important,” she says, adding that financial independence has brought about this change in her view.

Financial independence

Like Jayashree and Jyostna, Phulwari also feels that her ability to earn is what makes her strong. “I know I can live alone if something unfortunate happens.

My views also matter to my family as they feel I contribute to the financial security,” said Phulwari, an immigrant from Haryana, who along with her husband, earns about ₹10,000 by collecting garbage from housing societies.

For 60-year-old Mandakini Sawant, an LIC agent in the city, Women’s Day means empowering women to do better in life.

“I used to work in a small family-run business as an accountant. My life was home work and children. However, joining a bigger firm like LIC widened my thought process. I got better exposureand got some of the best trainings,” she said, adding that women should be given more training at work. Sawant earns about ₹1.5 lakh a month.

A number of women BusinessLine spoke to said sexual exploitation and social security were their biggest concerns.

Published on March 07, 2017

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