I was driving across the bayous today listening to NPR on my way to campuswhen the most empowering and delightful story happened. It was about the “Gulabi Gang” or the Pink Sari Ladies that have decided to take on the corrupt and ineffective men running Northern India. They wear bright pink saris and carry sticks. These gangs of empowered women not only go after corrupt officials but men who abandon or beat their wives.
My thought is we’re seeing the Indian equivalent of PUMAs. They have no political party affiliation and even refuse to work with NGOS. Leader Sampt Pal Devi refuses to to deal with them because ” they are always looking for kickbacks when they offer to fund us.”
The movement is about two years old and has gained ground to the point that Ms. Devi can push to the front of a line of local men to complain to officials about lack of electricity or corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor. They even stormed a police station to free an untouchable man that they felt was being held only for purposes of getting money for his release.
Another interesting pink lady movement in India is the pink cabs in Bombay driven by women for women. This has started an entire movement of entrepreneurial women.
“This is an unmet need,” Renuka Chowdhary, the Minister of Women and Children in India, said as the service started yesterday. “We have had a higher reporting of crime against women passengers. This is also a non-traditional job for women, so they are breaking out and becoming earning members for their families. We are confident it will catch on.”
Many of the women overcame the disapproval of friends and neighbours who thought that they should stay at home to look after their husbands and children.
Shweta Shinde, 42, applied for the job with the backing of her family and said that it had fulfilled her ambition to learn to drive. “For so many years, I wanted to have a car,” she said.
In the scheme, each woman puts down a 19,000 rupee (£232) deposit on a 369,000 rupee air-conditioned car, subsidised by Tata, the Indian conglomerate.
By paying off the balance on the low-interest loans, the women will own their taxis. They are expected to earn about 25,000 rupees a month, nearly three times the salary of a chauffeur and five times the pay of a domestic maid.
Read both the links up top to learn more about the pink ladies of India seeking to empower themselves and other women. I think it will make you smile and know that there is a worldwide sisterhood of pumas out there.