At a special mother’s day event held by author Sudha Menon, many witnessed the power of mothers and the power in empowering them. The session saw Special Olympic medal-winner, Gauri Gadgil with her mother, Sneha Gadgil and Priyanka Khandelwal of Abira Creations. Coming from different backgrounds, we got to hear their stories which shared the common essence of mother’s love and its impact on our lives.
Enrolling into swimming and Bharatnatyam classes helped Gauri to improve in concentration and keep a healthy physical and mental balance. Being a multiple-award winner in various swimming competitions, her mother spoke about the challenges and joys of taking care of her, “She had to get up at 5:30am every day to go for her training sessions. She would happily do it and never miss a session. When she went to Beijing for the Olympics, she managed everything on her own.” Soon after this, Gauri was approached for a film, Yellow, that was directed by Mahesh Limaye. The film won a National Award as a Special Jury Mention. Gauri’s mother speaks about how she was hesitant to let her daughter act in the film, “The film was about Gauri and the fact that she grew up with Down syndrome. She plays herself in the film. We don’t come from an acting background so I wasn’t sure if Gauri would be able to act and do what the director wanted.
But, before I could say anything, she had already said yes to do the film!”
Coming from Kota, a small town in Rajasthan, Priyanka Khandelwal is the first woman in her family to get an education that includes a Masters’ degree in fashion technology. As the founder of Abira Creations, she now provides employment and skill-training to several mothers who come from an under privileged background. “I grew up in a conservative family but I was fortunate enough to be able to exercise my rights and make decisions for myself. Lots of women don’t have that choice. At Abira, we make these women confident and independent individuals. We have a three-month training programme wherein we introduce them to various life skills and given them English lessons, financial and legal literacy, lessons in child care, yoga and Vedanta philosophy.
Taking these skills with them, they can find employment in fast-food chains, petrol pumps, warehouses and much more.”
Author Sudha Menon adds that there was one thing that struck her when she entered the workspace of Abira Creations, “I saw that there were rows and rows of women working and making jewellery but besides them, their small children were sleeping soundly. Women are allowed to bring their children to work. Once these women are assured that they can bring their children, they are more confident of picking up a new skill. I observed that the children also pick up whatever the mother is learning.”
But why choose only mothers? Khandelwal explains that the inspiration comes from her mother, “I come from a conservative family and my mother used to stitch garments for some money. I realised later as I studied fashion and got to know more about its revolution and fair wages that financial independence really helps women to speak up against domestic violence and other problems.” These women become thought leaders and change their lives as well as lives around them.
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