They come from a society where they could not step out without a Burqa, not allowed to speak in any affairs and were just asked to stay at home. They were not even allowed to study more beyond Class V.
Still against all social barriers and family pressures, these Muslim women stepped out to bring about a change in their culture and work for the poverty alleviation programme under the Chandigarh municipal corporation.
A part of the self help groups working in the colonies to alleviate poverty and improve the standard of living, these women took part in a workshop held on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty at Chaudhary Devi Lal Centre for Excellence in Sector 28 on Saturday. Adviser Vijay Dev was present for the function.
Fahida, in her thirties, a resident of a colony in Sector 25, moves freely without a Burqa creating awareness among parents of her community to send their daughters to school and pursue jobs.
Fahida has been successful in making the women in her area move without a burqa with many of them making a living now. She has urged the women to have their own bank accounts and deposit Rs 100 each.
“In 2007, when I wanted to join the group, I knew how difficult it was to convince my inlaws. They all went against me, but my husband supported me. People in my colony would pass comments like Fifth pass kya seekh degi,” she said.
“I visit the houses and tell people about the successful case studies where students , despite being poor, have been earning Rs 25,000 per month while working in retail sectors. I also tell them about how to save, the benefits of saving money and how to grow in your field,” she added.
Mehtab, a widow and mother of four, said, “I lost my husband last year. I thought its high time to realise that I am the only one to do something for my children. I have been taking this training and started stitching work.”
She added, “We save money every month and use it in case any woman of our group needs medical help.”