For 19 years now, Komal has been feeling that deeply entrenched gender roles are holding her back. However, she is determined to break down these stereotypes and establish herself in the hotel and catering industry.
In India, Plan International Belgium launched the “Saksham” project (which means “independent” in Hindi) to help young women get a foothold in the labour market. Our teams work with parents, employers and communities in the slums of Delhi to change their attitudes towards girls in school and in the labour market. We offer free training to girls and boys so that they can find a valuable job and escape poverty.
Komal lives with her family in a slum in Delhi. Already as a child, she dreamed of standing on her own two feet and living an independent life through a job. After taking the training organised by Plan International, she managed to secure a job in a fast food chain. "I was over the moon when I received my first salary," she says. "Now, I at least have money to buy the things I need or a gift for a special occasion. I also contribute to the family budget when my father has not earned enough."
Komal's society is dismissive of families who allow their daughters to work outside the home. Despite the social pressure, her father Vijay and mother Malti decided to support their daughter no matter what. "I am proud of Komal," her father says. "I have always wanted my daughters and son to get a good education so that they would find a decent job later on. When Komal told us that she wanted to participate in the Plan project to learn all kinds of things that would make it easier for her to find a job later, I was very excited."
Komal's society is dismissive of families who allow their daughters to work outside the home. Despite the social pressure, her father Vijay and mother Malti decided to support their daughter no matter what.
Inspired by her courageous daughter, Komal’s mother Malti is currently taking part in adult courses. She is happy for Komal and encourages her to set an example for her younger sister and the other girls in their neighbourhood. "Komal is the first girl in our family who works outside the home," says Malti. "A girl’s honour is the most precious asset a family possesses. She is very aware of the faith we have in her."
I want to get my diploma through distance learning and move up in the sales world. I will not get married until I am satisfied with my career, which will take a few years.
Thanks to the Plan International training, Komal has become a lot more confident. She is no longer afraid to go outside alone or to voice her opinion. She loves to work with other men and women. She uses the money she earns to continue her studies and is determined to realise her ambitions. "I want to get my diploma through distance learning and move up in the sales world. I will not get married until I am satisfied with my career, which will take a few years. I realise that I have a unique opportunity to build my own future, and I will not let anyone or anything take that away from me."
Since the start of the project in 2011, more than 5,500 young people, including 3,400 girls, have followed a training and found a job in sales, IT or the hotel and catering industry. We also work with local companies to make their working environment more suitable for women.
Indian labour market: inequality for girls and women
- A 2011 census shows that of the 587.6 million women in India, only 89.3 million are employed. For every three male employees, there is only one female employee.
- India ranks 87th out of 144 on the World Economic Forum's Gender Inequality Index.
- Although urban areas provide more employment, the number of young women living and working in the city remains at 9%. This low figure reveals an underlying problem of safety. The risk of assault is the main reason why there are so few urban women in the labour market.
- In 2015, 327,394 crimes against women were reported, 34,000 of them involving the use of force.