To be a woman who is strong, determined and independent is an immensely powerful combination. Independence is a powerful gift that a woman can give to herself. It can lead her to reach greater heights and achieve higher goals.
From the last few years, we are witnessing women rising to the top of their chosen fields; including traditionally male-dominated bastions such as science, business, journalism, politics, and of course, the finance sector.
A woman can be everything; she can be a homemaker, a support system for the family both financially and emotionally. It is also the woman who looks no less than a maid when she is soaked up in her chores and a completely different person the moment she steps out of her home. She dares to face failures and get up on her own. Same can be said about sales girls in Kashmir.
Sales which traditionally has been dominated by men is now seeing a change as more young women over the years have joined the sector. There are parts of sales where women do better than men and as such are preferred.
And more importantly being able to work in a Kashmiri society is empowering because it is so much better than sitting ideal at home after getting a proper education.
Salesgirls are the heroes who support their families. It is extremely important these days to be able to pay the bills, to be able to afford the routine expenses, to be able to shop for groceries, clothes and to be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones.
Sabreena, a salesgirl, has been working at a departmental store in Lal Chowk Srinagar for the past six months after leaving her job as a receptionist at a doctorâ€™s clinic.
â€œI did my graduation and wanted to pursue post-graduation in Economics, but the financial circumstances of my family did not allow me to do so,â€ said Sabreena.
Sabreena had always dreamt big and according to her, no job is big or small. Being good at operating the computer system she still chose to be a salesgirl.
â€œI wanted to gain experience as a salesgirl like how they work, I have always been curious about new things and my curiosity dragged me towards this job,â€ said Sabreena.
Sabreena is gaining knowledge regarding the business as she always wanted to be a businessperson herself.
â€œI do not want to remain confined to one particular profession, I want to be an independent girl, supporting my family in every manner,â€ said Sabreena.
In our society, the profession of a salesgirl is not even considered to be a profession. It is highly ignored by the people and mostly the society has always been judgmental towards them. No limelight has ever followed them, these young and bold girls work at different shops and showrooms including chemist shops.
Another girl Sakeena is a National player of taekwondo and is presently working at a departmental store as a salesgirl. She has played nationals in the year 2012.
â€œI do not belong to a well-off family, we are three sisters, and our father is a labourer but now he canâ€™t work anymore because of his serious health issues,â€ said Sakeena.
Sakeena said their financial condition was worse and they were not able to afford further studies. They had to leave their studies after the 10th and 12th classes, respectively.
â€œOur condition was awfully bad as nobody amongst us was earning, at that point. We did not have money to buy our fatherâ€™s medicine, we were helpless,â€ said Sakeena.
Sakeena said, â€œOne fine day we saw an advertisement in the newspaper, the departmental store required salesgirls, my sister and I both applied for this job and got selected after an interview and it has been four years since we have been working here.â€
â€œMy sister and I are supporting our family; we are looking after our fatherâ€™s medicines, and all the other household expenses.â€
Anu, a 24-year-old girl has been working at a fabric store in Lal Chowk as a salesgirl for the past three years. She has done her B.com from Women College Nawa Kadal and was working side by side.
â€œBeing the eldest child is not easy, there are many responsibilities, particularly if you are not financially sound. I am financially supporting my family,â€ said Anu.
Anu said, â€œMy sister is also working as a salesgirl and we did not leave our studies halfway; I want to pursue further education if my financial condition allows me to do so.â€
The income of Anuâ€™s father is not sufficient to fulfil their needs.
â€œI work from 10 am till 6 pm, I feel salesgirls are required in todayâ€™s time because most of the females are not comfortable with the salesmen. We have few female customers here who often visit us because they are much more comfortable with us as compared to salesmen.â€
Ulfat from Khayam, working at a readymade garment shop has completed her graduation in Arts from Gandhi Memorial College. While doing her bachelorâ€™s degree she decided to do a part-time job as a salesgirl.
â€œI have been working here for 5 years; I always wanted to be self-dependent. In todayâ€™s world, I think most of the girlsâ€™ desire to be self-reliant,â€ said Ulfat.
She said, â€œThe customers usually ask me questions like why are you doing this kind of work? Is your family supportive? I feel it depends on the girl, she knows very well what she is doing and how she is doing her work.â€
â€œWomen can shine in any field if they are given a chance. I had many dreams but due to financial problems, I was not able to chase them. Now, I am satisfied with my job and I am handling it very well,â€ said Ulfat.
Whatever people do in their lives they will always need a family who can support them psychologically, physiologically and emotionally and same is the case with working women. These women have got tremendous support from their loved ones, they survive in this society and empower other women who are reluctant to work on the ground. These women are the backbone of their families who not only financially support them but also give them hope for a better tomorrow.