New Delhi: Rakhi Verma (24) was excited when members of NGOs Sakha and Azad Foundation approached her in a boutique to join the organisations to learn driving and become a commercial driver. For her, this was a new inning.
These two NGOs based out of Delhi provide women from economically backward community a new opportunity in their own terms. Azad Foundation provides livelihoods with dignity to economically-backward women and Sakha employs these women on behalf. According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute published in 2015, India could boost its GDP by $700 billion (Rs 46 lakh crore) by putting women on par with men. With this aim, the NGOs try to bring women into the organised sector. In 2016, Rakhi Verma had started a boutique in Sarita Vihar. However, in 2018, she had to close the shop as she did not pay the loan amount of Rs 1 lakh. “Initially, I used to earn Rs 15,000 to Rs 16,000 per month, but the situation was very precarious as I had to pay loan and rent for the shop. There was hardly any savings after all the expenses,” she said. The members of Azad Foundation approached her in 2018, asking whether she wanted to join the organisation.
“When they came to my boutique, they told me that the organisation would teach them driving, conduct computer classes, among others. I was impressed, so I decided to join the organisation. I always wanted to learn driving, but there was a restriction from the family,” Verma said.
Meetu Kapoor, a member of Azad Foundation in Delhi, said: “In our society, driving is considered to be a profession reserved for men. And we want to break this stereotype.” These women are from poor background and most of these women’s family members work as daily wage labourers or own a small petty shops in JJ clusters of Delhi, said Kapoor. Rakhi Verma had to undergo training for over six months with the Foundation. Later, the Sakha, which operates a cab hire service “Women with wheels”, absorbs these women and gives employment. Sakha gives employment to over 50 women across Delhi.
Talking more about her ordeal after joining the Sakha, Rakhi Verma said, “After I joined Sakha, my parents had asked to leave the house. I stayed with my friends for a few months. Later, when I started earning around Rs 10,000 to Rs 11,000 per month and sending money to my parents, I reunited with them.” There are several women like her who are struggling hard in their lives with the aim to live a dignified life and 37-year-old Anjana is one of them. She has been associated with these NGOs for the past eight years. After working hard for all these years, she heads a team of eight members at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. She said, “When I joined Azad Foundation for driving classes, my husband objected and we used to fight daily. It was frustrating and humiliating for me to fight in front of kids. Later, I decided to leave my kids at my house in Agra and got separated from my husband. When I got employment, I brought back my children.” There are several young women who are employed with Sakha and working as a driver at the airport. Ipshita Kamra, a member of Sakha, said, “Our aim is to give women, especially from backward classes, a dignified life and make them independent.”