Scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day, I realized how far we have come as women. I distinctly remember the television series that aired during my childhood, the typical saas-bahu fights, where the mother-in-law is always the villain whose life’s only mission is to sabotage her daughter-in-law’s chance at any happiness. Pathetic and horrifying. That was back then, and today, everything about women has evolved so much. I mean, you don’t get to see these vamp saas-innocent bahu antics anymore (either that or I have stopped watching it).
No, but really, you can see the change everywhere around you. None of us aspires to grow alone because we want our mothers, sisters, and girlfriends to excel along with us. We inspire each other to give our best to the world that continuously derogates, demotivates and is also somewhat threatened by our success. And that’s the reason women are now standing up for their breed. So, here are two similar stories of the recently awarded Padma Shri winners – our Ladies of Honor, Lakhmini Baruah and Jaswantiben Popat.
Baruah is the founder of Konoklota Mahila Urban Cooperative Bank that has provided credit to thousands of women and made a positive change in their lives in Jorhat, Sivasagar. and Golaghat districts. This is the first-ever women-only bank in Assam. Baruah set up a bank for the women, knowing that she had no specialized knowledge in banking. She stepped up because she was aware of the issues that the women were facing in understanding the functioning of a bank. Soon, the bank was set up. With an investment of ₹ 8.45 lakhs and 1,500 women members in the initial stage, the bank now has four branches, 21 regular employees, and 45,000 account holders, mostly women. She made it possible so that none of her sisters was deprived of the benefits of a bank.
Just like Baruah taught women to be independent, Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat built a business and hired women in need. Whenever the word papad comes up, I bet the first thing that pops up in our minds is Lijjat papad. That’s it, Lijjat papad, jiska naam hi kafi hai, to recognize this lady. With just 80 rupees in her hand and a strong will and determination in the other, Jaswantiben made her brand a household name in millions of homes across the country. Mahila Gruh Udyog Lijjat Papad (women’s cottage industry) has set the perfect example of women’s empowerment by hiring needy women, which now is a family of around 46,000 empowered women.
In a world where there is cutthroat competition everywhere, where others’ success is a threat to someone, women like them never fail to prove us wrong. Just hearing about their stories made me go “Damn these women”. I mean, they are two of the best examples of Women for Women and are undoubtedly deserving candidates for the honourable Padmashri.