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Afghan Women Share A Taste Of Their Land
Aditi Bhaduri

All the time she kept house in Herat, Anwara (name changed) did not know that one day she would long for the city's salubrious climate. When Mariam ran, blinded with tears and blood, into a stranger's home in Kabul to escape the brutal Taliban soldiers, she did not imagine that one day she would be walking the streets where no one cared whether she even covered her hair. Neither had the two women known that one day their paths would cross in the hot plains of faraway Delhi. But that is just what has happened. Anwara and Mariam are among a group of remarkable women refugees from Afghanistan who have come together in Delhi and founded Ilham, a catering startup that offers and, in the bargain, promotes delicious Afghan cuisine. Besides being a crucial income source, Ilham provide the traumatised single women – widows and one divorcee – with a sense of community, where they can interact with their own, share their daily lives, their hopes and aspirations, silly jokes and makeup.

They had to learn how to maintain quality, how to cater to the non-Afghani palate, and be stringent about not wasting food. From November last year they began receiving orders – a big one came from the U.S. Embassy and the women earned Rs 16,000, a large sum for them.

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United States
No Paid Maternity Leave For American Women
Elayne Clift

Here’s something Indian women have and their American counterparts don’t: paid maternity leave. In fact, that’s exactly what America has in common with Papua New Guinea - they are the only countries that don’t have guaranteed paid maternity leave. In over half of the nearly 200 countries that do provide paid leave at last 14 weeks of compensated time off is granted. But in the United States, new parents aren’t guaranteed any paid time off. Instead, if they have worked for a certain amount of time at a company with 50 or more employees, they can take 12 unpaid weeks off for the arrival of a new child or for the care of a parent or spouse. Various studies have shown that for each additional month that a woman has paid parental leave infant mortality goes down by three percent. That is important to note in a country that has the highest infant mortality rate of any industrialised nation in the world. Further, mother-child bonding is stronger and babies are breastfed more when mothers can stay with their babies longer. Of course, paid parental leave is also good for business: productivity goes up, along with morale, and there is less workforce turnover.

‘It’s shocking that the United States has yet to match the standards for Family Leave that other nations have had in place for years, especially since research continues to show the pressing need for paid family and medical leave for working families.’

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Step Into The World Of Working Indian Women
Book Excerpt

When Alice Clark, historian and scholar of gender and society in India, decided to look into what led Indian women to seek a career, and also trace the change in ambition in them over the decades, she had several questions in mind: how are their choices shaped or constrained by the web of relationships in which they are embedded? How are the changes in their choices being shaped by historical forces that are still unfolding? What effects do their choices have on the overall system of social reproduction? The answers to these and many other queries centred on women’s work are reflected in her latest book, ‘Valued Daughters: First-Generation Career Women’, published by Sage Publications, which outlines the spread of ambition among young urban women in the country, who are affecting many changes by stepping out of their traditional roles to pursue higher education and jobs in cities. In this excerpt, let’s take a look at who is a career-minded young woman’s staunchest supporter in the family, before and sometimes even after marriage.

“They never regretted not having a son; they’ve always encouraged us to do everything a boy would do. … He wants to complete his dreams through me.”

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This One’s For The Special Children
Smita Deodhar

Bengaluru-based Hamsa Priya is a spirited mother of two, who has taken it upon herself to prepare her children for the tough life ahead. Priya’s children – Aashrita, 8, and Ishaan, 5, have MPS 3A, a rare genetic condition that affects the brain and the spinal cord. Till a few years back, understanding their particular needs and providing them with rehabilitative care was proving to be a real tough task, but today, she is happy that she is not bearing this responsibility all by herself. In fact, at the rehabilitation centres run by the Tamahar Trust, brainchild of occupational therapist Vaishali Pai, over a 100 children with conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, chromosomal disorders, intellectual impairment and epileptic disorders, among other syndromes and rare diseases, and their families are receiving treatment and counselling to help them cope. With the help of physical therapy, neuro linguistic programmimg, kineseiotaping and manual muscle work, along with alternate methods like yoga, art and music, children like Aashrita, Ishaan, Nitish, who has cerebral palsy, Sugi, who has Rett Syndrome, and many others are equipping themselves to find their own place in the world.

“Completely passive kids are rare. A child who seems unresponsive in class may suddenly start tapping at a taal (classical music note) on his/her lap at home.”

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Here's What Can Save Girls From Being Child Brides
Swapna Majumdar

When Lata turned 15, her family, living in a village in rural Andhra Pradesh, pulled her out of school and sold their cattle to get her married. Landless labourers, they no longer own any asset. Just 100 kilometres away, in Hyderabad, Ameena's privileged parents did not have to incur any debts to solemnise their daughter's marriage when she turned 16. But in both cases, the girls were underage and neither had a say in her marriage. Whereas early marriage is not an unusual practice in this country, considering it's rooted in patriarchy and gender discrimination, a recently-released 10-year study has attempted to look into the reasons it continues to thrive despite a comprehensive law in place and increasing levels of awareness around its negative implications. After all, only when the causes become clear can effective solutions be devised and implemented.

“If mothers are educated, equations change. Over 81 per cent of girls whose mothers had completed middle school remained single at 18. If the mothers had studied beyond secondary school, 91 per cent girls escaped child marriage.”

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