Yesterday, I signed the pledge to Press for Progress, this year’s theme for International Women’s Day.
Individually, we’re one drop but together we’re an ocean. Commit to a “gender parity mindset” via progressive action. Let’s all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide.
I believe in supporting women and in the spirit of International Women’s Day, I am proud to know these fabulous women in business.
Papamma. Meticulous, always shows up to work and is in charge of cleaning and waste collection in our apartment complex. She has a thousand-watt smile and believes in doing her job well. If the lift doesn’t work, she doesn’t care. She just brings smaller buckets to carry the garbage from floor to floor. She used to be a construction supervisor, she said. I can believe it from her authoritative attitude. Doesn’t believe in whining and has no time to listen to those who do. We are grateful to her for our clean corridors, our garbage free homes and our clean surroundings.
Here she is: bright, cheerful, well-dressed, most days with jasmine in her hair, usually glove and… loved!
Next up, this lovely lady who serves with a smile. She never gets irritated and heaven knows, people can be so annoying. Yet, look at her. Happily mixing up that concoction of peanuts, lemon juice, coriander, masala and rustling up an instant snack for the people milling around her. Very crowded market place too! And in summer, hmmph! Don’t ask. Did you notice how nicely she’s dressed?
She stakes her claim on a few squares on the sidewalk, right in the middle of the two-wheeler parking area. Unperturbed, she weaves fragrant garlands of jasmine, rose and marigold…and other flowers, while gently humming to herself. Oh yes, she has a regular clientele that shops in the supermarket just behind her and on their way out, buy flowers from her, chat with her. If she spots what they’ve bought, she’ll sometimes offer up a recipe wrapped in a story from her “those” days. If you’re lucky, she’ll throw in a few home remedies. Comes in the evening around 4 and leaves around 8.30 or 9.00 p.m.
This lady with the charming expression and no-option-but-to-like-her personality manages the group filed behind her. I met her in Jharkhand. They are from the Santhali tribe. Except that lady with the camera around her neck, who’s out of line. Some of these girls are her nieces or related to her and some are just part of the cultural group. Most go to school and live in the same locality, meeting for regular dance practice. Every time there’s a big event, they’re there to perform, beautifully costumed. They wait for hours in the hot sun. The main performance is usually during the cultural evening on the first day of the event. After that they perform in the open, much to the delight of the visitors to the event. Hats off to their patience and always cheerful smile. And all of them, super-shy! The lady-manager takes good care of them.
This brave woman can be seen everywhere in our area, alternating between major traffic signals. She sells balloons, braving all kinds of weather—and weaves between the traffic with absolute confidence. Those of us who watch of course have our hearts in our mouths. She literally sashays around, her skirt swirling around her, offering these large colorful balloons fixed to a stick. Smart businesswoman. Sometimes balloons, sometimes handmade toys, sometimes electronic stuff like mobile holders, car chargers, etc. She has kids who hang out on the sidewalk. The older ones assist her, while the little ones just amuse themselves. Not sure where they live, but they show up every morning and leave late in the evening!
This lady sells rangoli templates. She’ll demonstrate to all and sundry cheerfully. The moment she arrives around 3.00 p.m. she sets up shop in her spot, much like Sheldon Cooper, with a few designs already on display. As she waits for her prospects, she is also busy making bracelets. Clearly she doesn’t believe in putting all her eggs in one basket. Quite happy to sit on a sheet of newspaper, using the corner of her sari as her towel in warm weather, she’s content to make her money especially during festivals. It is a good thing we’re blessed with several and rangoli is auspicious, if not pretty. Some of us buy because we feel it is our duty to support her. Also, the templates are inexpensive and make nice gifts.
We see two businesswomen here. I am sorry you can’t see the lady standing. She’s an established flower seller who started with just a small basket of marigold flower garlands flitting from spot to spot before she grew to the stage where she has a stationary cart and her own spot now. She stocks a substantial quantity of different kinds of flowers. Life isn’t easy for her as she has to be at the flower market at 4.00 a.m. to catch the best bargains, then return home to finish housework, take care of family and segregate the flowers to display before she settles down to business for the day. She does two shifts—one in the morning from around 9.30 a.m to lunchtime and then again from 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. before she returns home. Love her anklets!
The lady in red sitting with the two bags of rice flakes and roasted gram and talking on the phone? She can carry on a conversation while attending to her customers. Her presence at the market is short-lived as she finishes her stock in 2-3 hours and heads back home. But it is hard work, nevertheless.
Love these cheerful gals! Always joking, laughing, they sell their colorful garlands sitting at the corner of the street. They are clever enough to reduce their prices as the day comes to a close so they can go home with an empty basket. Friendly, they look like they’re enjoying their job. They are usually there in the evenings, probably after college, to attend the school of life. Most likely their moms or aunts are around, too, busy with their own work.
This lady is not a local, but somehow she has moved here, hoping she can make a decent living. She sells her local craft—these colorful handmade streamers that look great at the side of doorways. They are quite well-made. I’ve got some that I bought over a decade ago that still look as good as new. She’s an astute negotiator and if she senses you are interested, you can safely bet you’ll go home with a couple of those in your bag.
What I admire most about these women in business is this:
- They work in the outdoors and do not complain.
- They show up for work every day.
- When we order ahead for large events, they never let us down.
- They know a thing or two about customer service.
- They’re generous.
- They are courageous–no matter what the weather, they’re at work.
- And they support one another.
I bow to them and all the other women I see regularly.
As I hold the note my Mom, my mentor wrote me, I wish all the amazing women I know a very happy Women’s Day, I’d like to add a heartfelt thank you to all the wonderful men in my life.
Happy Women’s Day!