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After Being ‘Just A Housewife’ For 18 Years, How I Kick-Started My Career At 41

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I’m ecstatic today.

For the first time, I’ve been given an opportunity to share my story. After years of dormancy, I’ve now rediscovered myself as a working professional. And it’s a pleasure to tell you about my professional journey, which started in my 40s!

I’m a quiet and self-effacing housewife. I got married when I was quite young, and it was a love-marriage. My husband had a joint family, and so we all lived together. My primary responsibility was to keep all my family members happy and satisfied as per their expectations. Having any personal goals was out of the question, and this was a startling realisation.

Prior to getting married, I was an ambitious girl who wanted to build a career in academics. As my father was a high school teacher, I too was inspired to have a similar career. I used to spend most of my time in reading or writing and dreamt of having a successful career ahead.

I believe that the significant things in our life are those which we want to do over and over with the same enthusiasm. For me, it was studying! So, I decided to pursue my education even after getting married and became a postgraduate in English literature. I must say that my in-laws supported me a lot and my husband always stood by my side. He encouraged me to perform well and actively participated in my education-related decisions; however, when I expressed my interest in going out to work, the reactions were not the same.

Everyone in the family was convinced that since there was no financial support required, it made no sense for me to work. Once I became a mother, I too gave up on the idea of working. My days were spent in taking care of my child, his studies, and the rest of the household chores. Meanwhile, I developed a sound interest in writing. In my leisure time, I started writing in my diary religiously – everything from random thoughts to my different experiences. This way, 18 years went by! I had aspired to do something great in my career; however, in reality, I wasn’t doing anything even close to what I had dreamt of.

Something unexpected happened after a long time. In the wake of social media, I became quite active on Facebook. I started commenting on others’ posts, wrote my own posts, and engaged with others. One day, I got a message from a friend. He asked me if I loved writing to which I replied in affirmative. I wasn’t expecting what he said next; he asked me why I was wasting my writing skills on Facebook!

In the ensuing conversation, he offered me to write for his healthcare website. I quickly grabbed the opportunity. While working with him, I learnt how to write conversational and straightforward pieces to reach the target audience. He mentored me well and told me about plagiarism and various tools like Grammarly, Hemingway test, etc. which further helped in honing my skills.

One of my articles “Estrogen-rich foods” was then published on the website and it received a good response. That was quite unbelievable to me! I was glad and could feel my confidence rising. It was while working him that I got to know about Internshala. Thus, I decided to test and develop my writing skills through internships.

I installed Internshala app on my cell phone and applied to some work-from-home internships in the field of content writing. I was shortlisted by an organisation and asked to complete a writing assignment. I had to compose brief biographies of two media legends from a given list of nine. I submitted it as soon as possible and was hired for the internship. My happiness knew no bounds! My family was also very excited about this news, especially my son, who was in the second year of graduation at the time; he encouraged me a lot and continues to do so.

During the internship, I continued to write about media legends. To be honest, though it felt great seeing myself advance on the path of professionalism, keeping a balance between work and family was challenging in the beginning. Either I was missing the deadlines, or I was compromising on the needs of my family members. I kept going on and soon learnt to create a balance. The internship was an amazing experience.

The team was very cordial and helped me a lot. They gave me multiple chances to rectify my mistakes and never let my moral go down. My writing skills improved a lot, and I got to know a lot about the nationally and internationally acclaimed media personalities. Finally, the team published almost all of my write-ups along with the assignment that I had submitted initially. I proudly shared all of them with my friends and family members and received appreciation from all of them.

After that internship, it became a ritual for me to apply for internships through Internshala. Currently, I’m simultaneously pursuing three virtual internships. It feels great as now I have a plethora of opportunities to choose from! I’ve built my writing skills and have valuable internship certificates to prove that; I’m confident that I can successfully pursue a career as a writer.

Now, I’m known as Ahuti Mishra – the freelance writer! Yes, this is what I had always dreamt of – to have an identity of my own. Now that I’ve gained that identity and found a new meaning in my life, I look forward to going a long way and learning many more things.

To all the women, especially housewives, I would just like to say this – “Don’t look at your age as a barrier. You are never too old to follow your dreams and start a career.” How to do so, you ask? In this digital era, there are ample work-from-home opportunities; just get started with any one of them! Opt for internships – they will help you gain relevant work-experience for starting your career. Even if one woman gets encouraged to start or restart her career after reading my story, the purpose of sharing my journey will be fulfilled.

About the Author: Ahuti Mishra is a homemaker who started her career with an internship after she crossed the age of 40. She shares insightful details about her transformation from a housewife to a successful freelance writer. This story was first published on Internshala.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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