By Shadan Muneer
Despite progress over the past few decades, women still face significant, structural barriers to success. “An equal world is an enabled world” — and every one of us can do our bit to bring about gender equality. That’s the core message of #EachForEqual, the campaign at the centre of this year’s International Women’s Day. It seeks to draw attention to the idea that gender inequality isn’t a women’s issue, but an economic one — as gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Business boardrooms, government departments and media coverage are just some of the key areas of focus highlighted by the campaign. And by celebrating women’s achievement, raising awareness of bias and calling out inequality, the campaign says, we can all help to bring about change. For the International Women’s Day 2020 tomorrow, this Weekend Star Supplement has selected six inspiring female leaders from Mysuru in the field of Politics, Police, Transport, Education and Business — path-breaking women who are drivingchange.
March 8: International Women’s Day
‘Women are progressing rapidly and today they are on par with men’: Tasneem, Mayor of Mysuru
Tasneem is the youngest and first Muslim Mayor of Mysuru. This JD(S) Corporator was elected as the First Citizen of Mysuru in January 2020. She entered politics in 2013 and has been a Corporator twice. A BA graduate from Maharani’s College, Tasneem was born and brought up in Mysuru. This young mother of two intends to win back the ‘Cleanest City’ tag and ensure uninterrupted supply of water and electricity, streetlights and underground drainage system.
SOM: Your biggest motivation to reach this coveted position.
Tasneem: My uncle Naseeruddin Babu, a three-time Corporator has been my biggest motivation and the reason for me to enter politics. As the Ward was reserved for women I was given ticket by Congress replacing my uncle and I was again chosen as candidate in 2018 on JD(S) ticket. My journey has not been all that easy but if you have a goal and perseverance, it will definitely work.
SOM: What obstacles and roadblocks did you to face?
Tasneem: You will find roadblocks and obstacles in every field. Initially I had to get through a lot of hurdles and lack of support from officials. You need to be on your toes and work tirelessly. With time I learnt to how to get over obstacles. I also had language problem since I was Urdu medium student. I had to work on my Kannada by taking Kannada tuitions and reading Kannada newspapers.
SOM: What are the steps taken to get Mysuru back ‘Cleanest City’ tag?
Tasneem: Lots of steps have already been taken and all the 65 Corporators have worked really hard in Swachh Survekshan 2020. They have educated citizens about the red and green buckets and conducted awareness programmes.
SOM: Pourakarmikas still do not wear protection gear. Breakfast scheme is also withdrawn. Has any specific plans been drawn to improve their condition?
Tasneem: Keeping in mind the interest of Pourakarmikas we had to withdraw the breakfast scheme as I got a lot of complaints from them on food quality. We have approved breakfast allowance. With existing health check-ups, scholarships and minimum wages, we are trying to make their lives better and we will come up with actionable plans.
SOM: What are the measures taken up to make Mysuru city women-friendly and safe?
Tasneem: Through proper street lighting as a lot of working women get back home late. We are planning to have LED lights for which a proposal has been sent to the Government. We have also started the ‘Nirbhaya Helpline’ to help women in need. Once we get a call, we make sure to reach the distressed woman at the earliest. We work hand-in-hand with Police.
SOM: What do you think of the present status of women in politics?
Tasneem: The scenario has changed and women can get into any profession. Every individual is free to decide about their careers. At MCC, women Corporators are strong in number and out of the 65 Corporators we have 33 women. If you are self-motivated, energetic and have the support of family, you can get into any field. In my case I am blessed to have a supporting family.
SOM: Did you face any problems in this male-dominated society?
Tasneem: I don’t think male-dominated society exists anymore if you look at the speed in which women are progressing in every field. You will realise that they are on par with men.
‘Be fearless and face hurdles with confidence’: P.V. Sneha, Addl. Superintendent of Police
P.V. Sneha has been working as Additional SP in Mysuru from the past one-and-a-half years. A native of Mandya, she is an alumna of University of Mysore and after completing her post-graduation in English, she cleared her KPSC exams and joined Karnataka State Police as a Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dy.SP). She has earlier served as Dy.SP at Sakleshpur and Kollegal.
SOM: Take us through your journey and tell us about your biggest motivating factor.
Sneha: Teaching was my passion initially. As a teacher my work would have been restricted to only one class but I wanted to involve myself on a larger scale. TV characters portraying the roles of Police officers inspired me. As a Police officer I can reach out to larger number of people especially women and children, resolve their issues and bring positive changes.
SOM: Domestic violence is rampant but and go unreported. How to instil confidence in women to come out and report harassments both at work and domestic front?
Sneha: It should start from their own houses. Parents and teachers must play an important and responsible role. Unfortunately gender disparity still exists. Women must be educated about their rights against crime and harassment. They should be made aware about women helpline numbers where the Police force is there to help them 24/7.
SOM: How important is it for women to learn self-defence techniques?
Sneha: More than self-defence, the most important aspect is to instil confidence amongst women and if you are confident you will be ready to tackle any situation. Yes, self-defence techniques are very handy in case of any emergencies.
SOM: Can you provide an insight on the measures initiated by the district Police for the safety of women?
Sneha: We have separate patrolling squad especially for eve-teasing. We also have ‘Chamundi Pade’ — an exclusive Police wing comprising PSIs, lady constables in every Taluk who take up cases related to women. They visit schools and colleges and give instructions depending on the crime and also discuss about women empowerment and safety steps that have to be taken outside and inside homes.
SOM: How beneficial are women helpline numbers and how does the department deal with complaints?
Sneha: Once we get a call, we send help right away and to make it more accurate, incoming calls and the response time is recorded. Whether it is within the city or anywhere in the district, the response time has to be filed. In villages we have beat constables who are easily reachable and their phone numbers are in public domain
SOM: How do you feel to be one among the few lady cops in the force?
Sneha: It is a proud feeling and I have the opportunity to look into crime against women and children. I am always motivated to ensure that justice is delivered and I also see to that my fellow colleagues also understand their roles and responsibilities. Women in Police should be looked as a greater part of social change.
SOM: Do you feel any gender disparity or have you faced any obstacles being a woman in the Police department?
Sneha: No I don’t find any gender discrimination and fortunately I haven’t experienced disparity at any level. I do the same amount of work as men do. We undergo same training as men. People are more accepting now and women have ventured into every field which is a very progressive sign.
SOM: What message would you give to the women of today?
Sneha: Face obstacles and hurdles with confidence. Do not fear anything, be strong and follow your dreams and everything will fall into place.
‘Take it one day at a time; stay calm and composed’ : K.S. Soundarya, RTO Mysuru East
Soundarya took over as RTO Mysuru East in 2017 and is one among the few women RTOs. A native of Mandya and brought up in Bengaluru, her academic qualifications include B.E in automobile engineering and M.Tech in industrial engineering. She also holds an MS degree. Her mantra to success is taking each day at a time and to go with the flow. She believes that automation in transport sector will be a trend-setter.
SOM: How closely do you work with the traffic Police in managing traffic to ensure safety of vehicle users and pedestrians?
Soundarya: We work together and it’s hand-in-hand job. With the manpower we have it’s not all that tough now. Introduction of digital technology and with innovative gadgets, we can manage it in a better way. Educating people in having a sense of responsibility towards the society also helps.
SOM: What is the role of RTO in overall safety and crime prevention and detection?
Soundarya: When we get cases from crime and traffic Police we work closely to trace vehicle details. Providing them with registration numbers, chassis number and engine number helps the Police crack cases.
SOM: Have hefty fines helped in curbing traffic violations?
Soundarya: Yes, to a great extent. Fines act as a deterrent. But here I would also like to mention that Mysuru city traffic sense is far better compared to other cities.
SOM: Would you encourage women to take on two wheeler/ four wheeler driving for their own independence and livelihood?
Soundarya: Yes, previously owning your own vehicle was a luxury but now it has become a necessity. It is a convenient mode of transportation especially for women and a better option rather than being dependent. Nowadays we see a lot of women coming up for driving tests. It is a positive change. We also recommend them to use public transport at times to avoid pollution.
SOM: What are the steps taken by the RTO to make the processes simple and accessible to all by eliminating middlemen?
Soundarya: The government is trying hard to make sure that people do not get deceived by middlemen. Websites like ‘Sarathi’ and ‘Vaahan’ have been launched to make it easy for public to apply for driving licence from anywhere. Websites also helps with the queries and questions. In case a person is an illiterate and finds it hard to apply he can visit Mysuru One Centres where we have trained people to assist. The recently launched automated vehicle driving test track at RTO East has also eased the process.
SOM: What steps have been initiated to curb pollution and stop old vehicles from plying on the road?
Soundarya: Central Government takes care of vehicle age fixing and it is mandatory that every vehicle maker (two-wheeler and four-wheeler) to manufacture, sell and register only BS6 vehicles with BS6 fuel from April 2020.
SOM: What’s your take on Women’s Day and a piece of advice for women drivers and riders?
Soundarya: Women have come a long way and womanhood needs to be celebrated everyday and my advice to the women riders would be to follow traffic rules, carry required documents and be safe.
‘Good business, dull business or no business. Never give up’: Nagamma, oldest vendor in Regulated Market
Nagamma has been selling lentils in the Regulated Market Committee (RMC) Yard from the past 50 years. Staying happy and satisfied with whatever she earns keeps her going.
SOM: Since how long have you been here? Are you the only bread earner for your family?
Nagamma: I have been in this market from the past 50 years. My husband too earns and I got into this business to support my family financially as I have two daughters.
SOM: What challenges do you face in your day to day life?
Nagamma: We face multiple challenges and we have no other choice but to face them. From supply to demand from rising prices of daily commodities to falling prices of our produce. It is difficult to manage but we have to fight for our survival.
SOM: Are you satisfied with the way your business is running?
Nagamma: We are going through the hardest times of our lives. The number of people coming here have dropped drastically the main reason being supply of fruits and vegetables at supermarkets and malls.
SOM: Tips from you to overcome obstacles in life.
Nagamma: All days are not the same. Some are good and some are bad. We feel happy when we do good business and feel bad when the business is dull. As the mother of two girls I can’t give up when the business is bad and I have to strive for them and for my livelihood and be satisfied with whatever I earn. Life moves on.
SOM: With no fixed income, how do you manage work and home?
Nagamma: God has made women very strong but she realises how strong she is when being strong is the only choice she has. Dull business or no business, God will take care of us
‘Where there is a will there is a way’: Bharathi M. Ryshyanth, wife of Mysuru SP C.B. Ryshyanth
Wife of an IPS officer and a daughter of a two-time MLA, this young mother of two is pursuing MBA and is a BBM graduate who has been drawn into social service since childhood. Brought up in Bengaluru, her love for children made her start a pre-school for kids.
SOM: Education has become a highly profitable source of income. Your fee structure is very nominal. How do you manage costs?
Bharathi: Where there is a will, there is a way and money is not the main criteria. I grew up seeing my father serving as a social worker and I too was drawn towards that. Education plays a very important role so I started the pre-school to give quality education. We also offer free education to a few needy. Our school was also awarded the ‘Best Pre-school’ in value for money category and we plan to expand in future.
SOM: Who has been your biggest motivator?
Bharathi: My husband and my father. My father has reached from nobody to somebody and today seeing him work hard for the society inspired me in many ways. After getting married to Ryshyanth and seeing his commitment towards work also inspired me to a great extent.
SOM: What are the challenges of transferable jobs and how do you manage work and home?
Bharathi: It is indeed a challenge with my husband’s high-profile job and busy schedule. Majority of the responsibility of children rests on me but we make sure to spend quality time as a family during weekend. Regarding to my work, when you are self-motivated and passionate about work, everything falls into place.
SOM: Could you give some tips to manage relationship with children so that they don’t feel neglected with both parents working?
Bharathi: It is very important to make sure that children don’t feel neglected especially when they are growing up. Having frequent family get-togethers at least once a week helps and I try and play the role of a mother and wife to the best of my ability. Most of the times I have to play the role of a father and mother to my children and spend as much time with them so that they don’t miss their father
SOM: Message to women struggling to create their own identity?
Bharathi: If you have clear thoughts as to what you really want, just go ahead and strive for it and give your best shot and wait for the outcome. Set goals and work towards it no matter how many hurdles you come across and never give up.
SOM: What are your other interests besides work?
Bharathi: I enjoy serving people, be it providing education to kids or visiting old age homes and ashrams. These voluntary services give me satisfaction — it feels nice to serve people who are lesser privileged than us in whatever little way possible.
‘Women are God-gifted best multi-taskers’ : Dr. P. Sarasvathy, First woman librarian, University of Mysore
Dr. P. Sarasvathy is the first woman librarian of the century-old Mysore University. Born and brought up in Mysuru, her academic qualifications include B.Sc., Master of Library Science and M.Phil. She has a doctoral degree too. She has been associated with library and information science from the past 20 years. She has been a guide to 10 research scholars and also associated with 68 national and international journal papers publication and 35 paper presentations in national and international conferences and seminars.
SOM: How do you inculcate the habit of reading among youth?
Dr. Sarasvathy: We organise programmes on developing reading habits and improving reading skills. We visit schools and colleges and conduct practical exercises and hour-based sessions. If reading habits decline, automatically writing skills will also go down.
SOM: With electronic devices getting popular, do you think reading habits are going down?
Dr. Sarasvathy: Students come to the library not only to read and gain knowledge but to survive in the competitive world. Electronic resource can never substitute print resource. It will only be a parallel supplement. Even today our library is packed.
SOM: Mysore University is the first to start a library for visually impaired in Karnataka.
Dr. Sarasvathy: It was established in 2012 with well-equipped technologies that includes Topaz magnifier monitor which can read books. We have user-friendly text readers, touch and feel embossed papers, recorded lessons in CDs, Braille books and talking software, Braille printer that can convert normal text to Braille language and other assistive technologies.
SOM: Any steps taken to modernise library?
Dr. Sarasvathy: We have purchased around 28,000 e-books and we keep updating them. UGC provides journals and we have also subscribed for e-journals which help students, research scholars and faculty.
SOM: What do you have to say about the present education system for girls in India?
Dr. Sarasvathy: Education plays an important role in the upliftment of any society. There is a need to improve education system for rural girls. Though the government has come up with new projects and programmes for educating girls in rural areas, it has to be enhanced with proper amenities and security.
SOM: Your take on Women empowerment?
Dr. Sarasvathy: Women are biologically and naturally empowered but needs to be encouraged. Women empowerment has to be considered as a significant issue and the government needs to introduce more projects and programmes for their upliftment and provide security so that they go out and achieve their goals fearlessly.
SOM: Your views on International Women’s Day?
Dr. Sarasvathy: Woman is God gifted beings and have been given meticulous power to balance family and profession with perfection. They are the best multi-taskers. Every woman should be treated as a hero and deserves to be applauded and appreciated.