Ranjeet Kour, a resident of Kunjwani in the Jammu district, is one of the first women to be driving an auto-rickshaw that swarms the roads of the Jammu region with UMEED scheme of Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihood Mission (JKRLM).
With the support of the UMEED programme Ranjeet has became an inspiration for many and is seen as a respectable figure wherever she goes.
Ranjeet said that she earned between Rs 1500 and 2000 on a day-to-day basis and she is now getting special bookings in the area.
"I am now getting praise across the board wherever I go even by those who once used to criticize me. Passengers are even more impressed with my courage now," she said.
"It's important for a woman not to have to depend on her father or husband for money, and for me, it's the first time it has happened. I am very grateful to the Centre's scheme which helped me earn a living," she said.
"When nothing seemed to be helping my family, I one day decided to work shoulder to shoulder with my husband, as an auto-rickshaw driver," she said, adding that though it was difficult to convince him (husband) at the initial stage, once he agreed, I without wasting time joined the UMEED group, from where I got financial help for e-rickshaw."
Notably, the UMEED programme under Jammu and Kashmir national rural livelihoods mission is a centrally sponsored scheme to encourage women to be self-dependent and self-sufficient. It also encourages women to make small savings so that their Self-Help Groups (SHGs) eventually become bankable at reduced rates of interest.
UMEED also helps hundreds of women in Jammu and Kashmir to come out of poverty and become successful entrepreneurs. She further said that there is no shame in choosing any work. "When I am satisfied with this work and am able to help my family in a very good way, then why should I care about the taunts or criticism by people?
"I believe no work is less than your God; once you treat it as worship, then believe me, there is always a fruitful result," she added.
"We just have to work hard to make our dreams come true. We all have our dreams and if we are passionate about them, we will definitely achieve success. We just have to be mean with our work, we have nothing to do with anything," she said, adding that if girls feel they want to do something or are interested in doing something, then they should do it immediately.
She also said that there is nothing to be ashamed of when you can make good money and earn it with dignity. "Girls can take advantage of government schemes to support themselves and their families," she added.
"I am doing my job with dignity every day and I am happy with this work," she said, adding that nowadays, many educated women are sitting at home and worried about not getting employment. I want to advise them that nowadays the government has opened many opportunities for them and they should take advantage of them," she added.
She further urged the unemployed youths of Jammu and Kashmir to avail benefits of schemes provided by the central and union territory governments. (ANI)