How a domestic helper charted a new course.
Sushila looked at the tips of her fingers, wrinkled like raisins - as she walked home with her mother. The lemony scent of dish soap barely masked the odor of toil that enveloped her. Her life as a maid - like the lives of all the other women in her village - was suffocating, to say the least. Bound by the chains of patriarchy and oppressive ‘tradition’, she had no say in her own life. But Sushila had a spark and she would not settle for anything less than what she wanted.
Here, fate intervened – her employer offered her a job as a scooter-trainer at Aatm Nirbhar. Who knew that riding a two-wheeler would take a deprived-of-dreams woman miles into a bright future?
"This is a story of a woman covering the distance between being a nobody and becoming an unmistakable force of feminism. "
This is a story of a woman covering the distance between being a nobody and becoming an unmistakable force of feminism.The long, fatiguing hours of the day spent working in countless houses amounted to a sum lesser than what would make ends meet - working as a maid had been hard. Convincing her brothers to allow her to become a scooter trainer at Aatm Nirbhar was much harder. With the support of her mother, she was eventually able to persuade them.
Once she had broken free, there was no stopping her. In her flight she gave wind to the wings of thousands of women around her. As one of the oldest trainers at Aatm Nirbhar,
Sushila has trained more than 500 women to ride scooters.
Even her own life has changed completely. She recently bought a plot of land with her own money — to say that she is just financially independent as a woman would be an understatement. She is now an inspiration to those around her, a shaft of sunlight breaking through the formidable clouds of poverty and patriarchy.
But most importantly, Sushila has earned agency and a voice
for herself and her sisterhood. The girls in her village look up
to her with hope when they see her riding her brand new
brown colour Honda Activa.
Sushila is happy, but not entirely content. She doesn’t believe in settling like dust. Her next challenge? Sushila is fighting narrow minds at home to allow the construction of a toilet in their village house, where women still defecate in the open. She will provide for her nieces access to basic sanitation and education, something that she never had.