Current Affair: Women All Charged Up As They Become Electricians
In a male-dominated profession, women electricians in Indore, Madhya Pradesh are now rewiring gender stereotypes and becoming a part of new building projects and providing other electrical services.
Laraib Fatima Warsi 3 Aug 2023 8:51 AM GMT
Ganga Chandel has spent a large part of her adult life as a cleaner at a private school. The 36-year-old resident of Indore had to do it as with two children and a husband who is an autorickshaw driver, the family needed more money. As someone who had never been to school, that was the only job she could get.
Today, Chandel is an electrician. She does wiring and other electrical tasks with ease, and earns up to Rs 8,000 a month.
“My son is proud of me. He came up to me and told me how he could tell everyone his mother is an electrician, not a cleaner,” Chandel told Gaon Connection.
It is the Samaan Social Development Society founded in 2010 in Musakhedi, Indore, that has restored her self-esteem, said Chandel.
‘Samaan’ a Hindi word means ‘equality’. The non-profit focuses on socially empowering women. Samaan has provided legal justice to women who are victims of abuse and trained them to become drivers, mechanics and now electricians.
Chandel enrolled for a training workshop at Samaan Society in May 2023.
“We came up with a plan to train women to become electricians. We began with their technical training in October, 2022. Our training is for three to five months. So far we have trained 20 women to become electricians, ” Rajendra Bandhu, Founder & Director of Samaan Society, told Gaon Connection.
“It was a challenge getting women to sign up for the training. We explained what the training was all about and how it could be a help to them. We assured their families that the training centre was a safe environment for the ladies to work in,” Bandhu said.
For many women, the training is a way out of a dead end. It has given them hope that they can do something with their lives.
Like it did for Reena Kanare, a 27-year-old from Indore. Kanare was married but now she is separated from her husband and lives with her parents. “I have studied only till the 10th. After the separation I was always anxious and stressed. But when a friend who works at Samaan Society told me about the work it does, I decided to get trained. Today I am an electrician,” Kanare told Gaon Connection.
The women electricians from Samaan Society are sent out on new construction projects. “If they are sent to wire a 1,000 square ft house then they get paid Rs 50,000 for it and that amount is shared between the four or five of them,” Bandhu explained.
The journey has not been without its challenges, the women say.
“I have faced scepticism when I first began work as an electrician. And a lack of faith. ‘How can women do a job that is done by men’ was the unspoken question, I know,” Preeti Verma laughed.
Verma holds a B.Ed degree, but it is her three month training at Samaan Society that is proving to be a blessing to her. It was there that she learnt the trade of an electrician, and also found employment.
Forty-year-old Preeti has been working there since May 2023. She is sent out to do electrical work at homes and work on the electrical wiring at new constructions. She along with the other trained women electricians also take part in the training workshops to train others like they themselves were.
“Actually, the idea of a woman electrician is welcome to many women, who tell me they are always happier to see a woman electrician coming home to repair their appliances,” Verma said.
For her personally, the work has been liberating. “I was not doing much with my life and this training has given me a purpose, besides making me economically independent,” Verma said. “It is liberating not having to ask my husband for money for every little thing I need to buy,” she added.
Many of these women electricians have launched on their new career at a time they have discharged their domestic duties. In their 40s, they are coming into their own and the fact that they are contributing to the welfare of their families is a huge thing for them.
“This work has given me an identity and financial freedom,” 42-year-old Kusum Paikara told Gaon Connection. Her husband works at a textile company in Rajasthan.
Paikara was doing a diploma in electrical engineering in Ujjain, when she was married off to a family in Indore. Samaan Society has now given her an opportunity to be something more than a wife and mother as she joined Samaan Society in February 2023 and is now an electrician earning about Rs 10,000 a month.
“It was daunting at first. I remember the time when I once fused several bulbs,” she laughed. But the feeling of earning money is unmatched, she said. “My dream is that with the money I make I will be able to provide a good education to my children,” she said.
Chandel echoed Paikara’s words. “For me and my husband, the priority is giving our children an education that will give them a head start. We do not want them to face problems that we did in our lives. I hope my job as an electrician will make that happen,” she said.
For Reena Kanare, starting afresh and putting a bad marriage behind her was tough. “But, when I stepped out of my house I saw that there was a whole new world where women are fulfilling their goals,” she said.