India has one of the lowest labour force participation rates for women. The country has made progress to reach 87 out of 144 countries for gender equality overall, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, India stands 136th for labour force participation.
For many women who want to work, there are multiple barriers — education levels, skill or technical education, not to mention societal or familial pressure.
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Here in Murthal, Haryana, at the Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology —an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers — a special training course has been set up through the Disha project, supported by UNDP and partners geared towards employment in plastics engineering.
Jyotsna, the 25 year old trainer tells us that this involves about 6-8 hours of training every day— both theoretical and more practical, hands-on training. The girls we’re invited to talk to—out of a batch of 30— have faced very different hurdles to make it here.
While 22 year old Banty Kumar is a national level wrestler, she says she’s focusing on training here to get a job for the financial independence but will continue to wrestle.
“Mera naam Bunty hai, maine nationals mein wrestling ki, medals mil gaye,” she recalls of her prowess in the sport. But has it helped her financially? That’s what has pushed her to plan her life around improving skills and learning new ways of livelihood.
21 year old Madhu Verma talks haltingly about trying to put her life back on track after a difficult marriage and divorce.
Both Banty and Madhu tell us not just about the skills they’re learning, but also about the community they’ve found here and the friends they’ve made.