This is a story of a Gujjar girl who combated all odds and shackles of society to earn Financial freedom
Hailing from a conservative community, Meera Gujjar has a young son from a husband who suffers from psychiatric ailment. She was a part of a male-dominated society who has now become the face of United Nations project.
While she was in her struggling phase, UN was looking for women for it’s project themed: ‘Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030’. It was easy to spot her as she was different from the league and was not a cookie cutter essentially. Clad in a ‘ghagra lugdi’, Meera caught the attention of the UN team at the Public Works Department (PWD), Jamwa Ramgarh tehsil, which happens to be around 21km away from Jaipur.
The UN project aims at a future that gives equal opportunities and rights to all women by 2030. It focuses on new commitments under UN women’s ‘Step It Up’ initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, empowerment and human rights.
“ It’s certainly difficult for women here. But I was going through difficult times and had to do something for survival. I only knew ‘k, kha… ‘ (in layman language, basic ABC). It took me two years to form the company, Meera Construction Co”.
She added, “ I opened the company with assistance from a chartered accountant. I had to work from scratch and learn all the processes and procedures to get my PAN card, register my company, and get the TIN and sales tax numbers. Even a year after getting all these documents, I did not get any work as gender inequalities are deeply entrenched in the system. But I did not give up.”
Meera started bidding for tenders at rates lower by 15%. However, to no avail.
“Finally, when I bid 44% less, I got my first contract to re-carpet the road at minister Rajender Singh Rathore’s place. So far, I have done only five projects. I only want one project in six months. That’s enough to sustain me and my family,” says Meera.
On being asked how she came to know about tenders and government contract work, Meera answered, “I got to know about the Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) by using Internet as well as from PWD. Now, I’m the only ‘thekadar’ (contractor) from the village.
Meera added, “The Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) has lot of work for us. But I don’t have the money to register or to put in as earnest money to pursue more tenders. It takes lots of time for authorities to clear bills and most of the time officials are hesitant to give me work.”
Currently, Meera’s company has successfully completed big projects. However, it is still registered as a ‘D’ category contractor with the PWD. She now awaits the ‘C’ category contractor ticket so that bigger projects come her way.
We wish Meera all the luck. We admire her and we support her in her bold endeavour initially started to achieve financial freedom. Keep up the good work Meera!