As the city hurtles into yet another lockdown, we deep dive into the lives of three women in Mumbai. A female taxi-driver, a nurse from Kerala and a skilled beautician who now works in a factory as a daily wage earner.
These women had arrived in the metropolis, known as Mayanagri, the City of Dreams, and had been at the cusp of a successful trajectory of work, before the pandemic changed everything.
Their stories will at once break your heart, and at the same time, uplift you with their indomitable spirit and never-give-up attitude. The fall has been hard but they are all ready to reset, reinvent and get back on their feet.
The pandemic and subsequent lockdown stripped many women of their aspirations of a life beyond meeting basic needs that they had started believing was finally within their reach.
In India women face daunting challenges to land a spot in the male-dominated workplace, indicated by the abysmally low numbers across surveys. Even as more and more women get better educated and strive to move beyond the confines of the home.
The inability to earn what one is capable of, and the insolvency brought about by the pandemic, are seen as a personal, individual strife. It is striking that the larger system and its failures to take care of the basic needs of its citizens, is never blamed.
Will mere resilience be enough for these women riding out this seesaw of uncertainty, as the finishing line to their future goals keeps moving beyond their reach?
For further details on this ethnographic research, see https://www.foundingfuel.com/article/teetering-on-the-edge-of-survival/