“I will contribute to my family’s income with every penny I earn”: 21 year old Shivani
Despite much of society continuing to place a higher value on a man’s role as financial provider, everyday we root for valiant women who want to contribute to their household economic security.
“Shuttling between home and work, juggling responsibilities, and constantly staying alert to one’s surroundings -- could a man ever do that?” Shivani begins our conversation with a formidable question. “Women are experts in multitasking. Since childhood, we have been trained to manage ourselves, the household, and our studies. Men have always had the comfort of having things done for them -- of course they can never be as efficient as us in the workplace,” she asserts.
It is this conviction in her own multitasking abilities that has seen Shivani Kushwah through her highs and lows. Having failed to clear the National Skills Training Institute (NSTI) entrance exam in her initial attempt, she persevered to eventually secure a seat. “The intervening period between preparing for the exams and clearing it was not easy. I had to handle household chores, study for my exams, and attend classes for my B.Sc degree.” Shivani currently holds an undergraduate degree in Biology, is trained in Fashion Designing from an ITI, and will soon have completed her training in Dressmaking from the NSTI in Indore. “Once the exams are held, I will have another credential on my resume,” she beams.
Shivani currently works in the production department at an apparel manufacturer as a writer. Starting off in her first job, the twenty-one year old was a bag of nerves. “Although I had trained in fashion designing, I had very little experience in writing. Additionally, I was told that I would have to train some interns working under my supervision. But I was fortunate to have excellent supervisors myself and quickly learnt on the job. Today, I’m regarded as someone to consult for opinions and ideas within the office.”
Despite excelling at work, Shivani remains eager to prove herself to her family and friends. The events that followed her enrollment in the NSTI left a mark on her and kindled her determination to support and improve her family’s life. Within fifteen days of her enrollment at the NSTI, Shivani's grandfather who had been battling blood cancer passed away. "My parents were considerate towards me and hid this news for weeks, especially because I was very close to my dada. In addition to this, finances at home were deteriorating. They knew I would be disheartened upon hearing this unfortunate news.” It is her grandfather's memory that sustains Shivani today.
“My family has become the centre of my universe. I will contribute to my family’s income with every penny I earn. I cannot stand to see them broken and despondent.”
Although Shivani today is under pressure to sustain herself and her family, she remains upbeat about her work. “I love the idea of multitasking. There is so much to learn from balancing different responsibilities.” She credits her love for multitasking to the training she pursued under the MyQuest program. “MyQuest motivated me to become multi-skilled so that I could do more, more efficiently. It helped me hone my conversational skills, listening ability, and taught me several things outside the curriculum. The training has made me a discerning reader and writer, and has cultivated in me the habit of reading.”
She adds that the style of teaching helped her overcome her limitations. “Whenever I made a mistake, the mentors at Quest Alliance never reprimanded me or made me feel small for my error. They explained my mistakes well, and even helped me correct it. This is the attitude I wish to adopt while teaching my interns at work.”
However, while her work and interns are a priority, nothing can shift Shivani’s focus from her family. “The goal will always be to make my father proud; and I hope he can one day speak proudly of me like other fathers speak about their sons.” As she signs off, she adds hesitantly: “I hope you don’t consider me crazy for worrying so much about my family. I hope you will understand -- they are all I have.”
The MyQuest program in National Skills Training Institutes (NSTIs) across India is implemented with support from J.P. Morgan and the Directorate General of Training. Since 2019, this project has impacted 5,500 young women and 148 trainers in 17 NSTIs.*
The project provides intensive employability skills training using a blended-learning approach and other vital initiatives to enable young women to begin their career journeys.
*As of March 2021