Historically, women have always bowed down to the patriarchal system that our society thrives on. Religion forbids entry of women to temples and dargahs, military restricts women from combat duties and politics is still a male stronghold with only a handful of women taking leadership roles. While women might still be a minority in many fields, it was a treat to see a male dominated profession being run by an all women’s team. Not a couple of women I say, 103 women to be exact and that too, in a big manufacturing plant.
No, its not just my imagination. STL’s optical fibre colouring unit in Silvassa is a no man’s land. Women, as young as 20-21, smartly dressed in pants and crisp button down shirts are a part of this automated plant that has broken norms and is setting an irreversible trend.
I met these amazing girls on a routine trip to the factory and I was completely taken aback by their sheer sense of purpose and dedication. Coming from as far as Arunachal Pradesh, they reminded me somewhat of myself in my younger days. Being financially independent was the ultimate goal and just like for these young girls today, nothing seemed impossible.
Getting back to these young ambitious women, this colouring unit is always buzzing with activity. Their job is not limited to routine manufacturing or quality checks but they also receive hands on training in skills as diverse as data gathering, financial planning, self defence, yoga, self improvement… and the list goes on.
They love it here because the environment in the unit is extremely light hearted. An occasional giggle here, a muted chat there, sharing notes on new learnings, helping each other and being a support system to one another, this is as strong a bonding as it gets!
With such positivity, this workplace is a home away from home for many.. Chitra, a petite young girl with dark hair is one such example. On hearing that STL is converting one of their units to be run only by women, she knew this was the opportunity she had been waiting for and since then there has been no looking back for her.
Like her there are many, who despite coming from diverse cultures, have found a place they can call their own. A secure work place that values their contribution and lets them learn, chat, laugh, eat, compete, smile and celebrate their achievements together everyday.
Chitra, Khushboo, Sushmita, Dipali, Sakshi are just a few names whom i met and interacted with for a little while but they left a lasting impression on me. They are the heroes whom we don’t come across often. Unlike the hardened, expressionless faces of men we see on the manufacturing floor, these women might look delicate but their physical strength is their determination. They have the will to provide a better life for themselves and their families. My humble salute to these women, their camaraderie and their resolve to bring about progressive change.