Insha Rani

Women street vendors in Kashmir reveal daily struggle

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Srinagar, Aug 01: When it comes to street vending, streets are full of challenges for the women.  There is a lot of struggle associated with the job. Jaana, 60, a fisherwoman in Hazratbal defines this struggle.

“I am an elderly woman suffering from various health issues. My work demands a lot of energy and hard work. There are so many hardships that I have to face on daily basis,” she says.

There are many other women, besides Jaana, who also work as street vendors in order to support their families and the kind of things they sell sets them apart but they all share similar working conditions.

“The struggles associated with my work have become a part and parcel of my life. I have to support my family and there is nothing except street vending that I can do to make ends meet,” says Jaana.

Jaana says she could not provide education to her children because of the lack of resources. She has two sons who work as laborers at Dal Lake.

“I could not afford to send my sons to school; otherwise, my life would have been different. I don’t want my grandchildren to live the same life and which is why I along with my sons are working hard to ensure a better future for them,” she added.

Reena, 16, is another woman street vendor who could not attend the school because she had to earn and support her family. She sells toys near Habak crossing in Hazratbal.

Reena also has to look after her younger brother and sister at work as her entire family works at different places during daytime and there is nobody to look after them.

“I am from Hoshiyarpur Punjab. My entire family works here in summers. During winters, we move to others places and return when the weather improves,” she says.

Reena wants her brother and sister to attend school but since they have to travel from one state to another to earn their livelihood it is impossible for them to get enrolled in a school.

Hajira, 35, who sells vegetables at Foreshore Road on the banks of Dal Lake, said that sometimes she wants to give up her job and go back to her home but the thoughts of her daughter stop her from doing so.

“My daughter is studying in 8th class and she wants to become a doctor. I really want her dream to come true and for that to make happen, I have to work hard and do what I have been doing from last one decade,” she says.

Hajira is on medication from last one year. She is worried about the future of her family, particularly her daughter. She fears that her ill-health may become a hurdle in the career of her daughter.

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