Srinagar: Thirty-two-year-old Sabina (name changed) from Srinagar was very anxious ever since she got engaged. A student of fashion designing, Sabina always feared that she won’t be allowed to follow her dream after marriage.
Luck however had other things in store. A month after her marriage last year, her husband volunteered to finance her boutique.
“My husband, who is a government employee, even agreed to send me for a crash course in fashion designing in Mumbai,” she said.
Sabina is not an isolated case. Women in Kashmir are shining in unconventional fields. Every year, scores of women pass out from different universities and colleges and jump into fields that were otherwise dominated by men.
Women empowerment in Jammu and Kashmir has been at the heart of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) survey. For instance, 81.6 percent of the married women in Jammu and Kashmir participate in at least three household decisions.
In rural Jammu and Kashmir, 81.7 percent of women take household decisions, while in urban it is 81.3 percent. The survey also shows an improvement in the women working and getting paid for their services during the last five years.
In the 2015-16 NFHS survey, only 12.3 percent of the women were getting paid after working for 12 months. In the latest survey, it has improved to 18.4 percent. In rural Jammu and Kashmir, 18.1 percent of women, who worked for 12 months, got paid. In urban centers, the number is 18.5 percent.
Similarly, 57.3 percent of the women own a house compared to a mere 33.1 in 2015-16. In rural Jammu and Kashmir, 60.8 percent of women own a house or land against 48.2 percent in urban areas.
The survey claims that 84.9 percent of the women have their saving accounts which they operate themselves. In 2015-16 only 60 percent of women had their individual bank accounts.
Likewise, 75.2 percent of women in Jammu and Kashmir have mobile phones. 73.3 percent of women in rural areas have mobile phones, while 80.4 percent own phones in urban areas.
Figures by the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises suggest that a total of 3,933 MSME units owned by women have come up in Jammu and Kashmir in the last one year. Of these, 3823 are micro, 107 are small, and three are medium units. And, 855 new MSMEs, including 684 micro 165 small, and five medium units, have been started by educated women in Jammu and Kashmir under the Udyog Aadhaar Memorandum.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), a total of 3,500 women have established their units in Kashmir.
The government has launched several schemes aimed at benefiting women. `HAUSLA’ is one such comprehensive programme that aims to promote women entrepreneurship in the union territory. Under this scheme, the government’s target is to provide financial aid to 50,000 Kashmiri youth, particularly women.
Lieutenant governor Manoj Singh recently unveiled SAATH to promote women entrepreneurship in rural areas. Designed by Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihood Mission, SAATH aims to encourage and upscale women-driven endeavors in business, industry, and agriculture. Under the programme, the government aims to help over 400,000 women.