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Saturday, April 17, 2021

India’s ‘Iron Women’ Are Changing the Face of Indian Business

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Malhotra is a mother of three daughters and one son and sells handmade arts, crafts, and jewelry by the dozen outside a large shaded market in East Delhi’s Baljanpur. This being India, she’s always running on time for a three-minute office appointment — which begins when she rises at 5:15 a.m. — before setting off on her market-day schedule. When not on the job, she teaches literature at a school in the same neighborhood, along with doing things like managing her family’s finances and social media accounts.

But why, you might wonder, would a working woman like Malhotra spend her days with her husband and children in a neighborhood known for violence against women?

“We want our girls to be educated and advanced to the best of their ability,” says Malhotra. “If we don’t want girls to take these steps themselves, then what will they do?”

Women who come from traditionally low-caste backgrounds, like Malhotra, find opportunities in the open job market when faced with traditional barriers, says Sabita Munjal, a professor of family studies at IIT Delhi. As India’s workforce expands, more such women are opening small businesses selling secondhand clothing, textiles, and household goods.

“Millions of women are in the domestic and rural sector,” says Prof. Munjal. “Most of them never study. So when the government is making efforts to open these jobs, they’re often leading the change,” says Prof. Munjal.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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