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Meet Bhilai’s Fierce and Unstoppable ‘Tyre Wali Madam’

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By Reena Kripashankar Yadav

I’m passionate about my business

If you are willing to put your best put forward, no obstacle in this world is big enough to put you down.

I’m a 27-year-old from Bhilai, Chattisgarh and run my own business of tyres and tubes for small to big vehicles, with hi-tech machine facility and services. How I landed up doing this so-called ‘male-dominated business’ is a story I want to share.

I was born in a well-to-do family and we’re three sisters. My father (I fondly called him Papa) was a transporter and we owned three trucks. Life was good and almost like a fairytale. Whatever we wished, papa gave us. Our wishes were so easily turned into realities. In 2001, papa passed away, leaving us and his business alone.

I was then in Class 5 and witnessed huge changes happening around me. With papa no more, we didn’t know what to do with the transport business. It was an unfriendly and unknown thing.

Amidst all this, my grandparents tried to impose upon us their whims and fancies – forcing us to live in the village. Whatever we owned – land, properties and trucks were taken from us and we were left with only one truck.

My mom, my pillar, my strength

My Mother – pillar of support and strength

When my grandparents began acting insensitively, my mother decided to take charge. She fought for us and she made up her mind to bring up her three daughters in a healthy environment where they could have a good education. We somehow managed a livelihood, in spite of facing many obstacles.

There were days when we went without food. I saw our mother struggle to make ends meet. I was in school, too young to understand and help my mother. Gradually, as I grew up, I began helping and supporting my mother. With each day, we became strong and tackling difficulties seemed less of a challenge. I also completed B.E. (Computer Science Engineering) and did B.Ed, too.

My tyre shop journey

After engineering, I searched for job vacancies in my city. I chose not to move to a different city to pursue a career as I had to look after my mom and my sisters. One day I got a call from a tyre company, and began my first job, learning about tyre business and tricks of the trade. The pay was only ₹4,500 but to support the family, I took it up. The management was pleased with my work and skills, and my salary was increased to ₹7000 in three months. But it was too less to support my family, so I quit my job and joined a class to learn how to set up a coaching school.

My coaching centre is a part of my success journey

With my younger sister, I began ‘Smartway Coaching Classes’ with 90 students and was able to earn ₹40,o00 from the coaching class.

After two years of this, something inspired me to do my own business and this is how I started my own tyre shop.

Transport business is unlike other business. It’s a male-dominated territory, with plenty of competitive people around. Initially, we were subjected to taunts. Also, the first three months were nothing similar to what I had imagined. The biggest issue was the location of my shop and I started contemplating if I had taken a wrong decision. Everything was at stake, including all my savings. In this turmoil, I never gave up.

Instead, I shifted my shop to a new and better location. It was my life’s turning point and from the very first month I received fame, name, and money and people nearby my shop began calling me ‘Tyre wali madam’ and I liked it!

#MyDreamAutomobile

Go! Grab your dreams

I always question myself – what’s life without challenges? Women need to take up challenges fiercely and also motivate themselves to soar high.

Being a SHEROES Community member, whenever I come across girls and women depressed in life, I share my strength and motivation and boost their courage.

I too received accolades from other women for my guts and perseverance when I shared my tyre shop’s journey in SHEROES #AllAboutYou challenge. I think it’s a great way how we boost happy sharing platform.

Today, I tell everyone, “I’m a proud daughter of my brave parents.”

I took difficulties and obstacles in my stride because I believed in myself. Starting my own tyre shop wasn’t easy, but it made me realise a few things – Don’t just dream,  forge ahead and achieve them! Be at it, till your last breath.

About Reena Kripashankar Yadav:

I’m a SHEROES community member, and business is my passion. I also love cricket, and my family (mom and sisters) is my rock. Hurdles in life don’t shake me. I love cars and find my interest in the SHEROES Automobile community where I recently shared #MyDreamAutomobile 🙂

                                    SHEROES Communities for women are accessible via Sheroes.com and the SHEROES app
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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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