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Kashmir women fight all odds to reach on top

Despite living in militancy infested land women in Kashmir have proven their mettle in different fields by
dint of their hard work and dedication. Success stories of Kashmiri women have inspired the fairer sex
across the world to follow in their footsteps to shape up their lives.
The Resolve of Kashmiri women to achieve something big in their lives has propelled them to march
ahead and inspire everyone they met on their way. Roaring of guns, threats and intimidation by
militants and radical organizations did not deter these women from pursuing their goals.
Kashmir during the past three decades saw very few, small spells of peace in between war, violence, and
the women were the worst sufferers. But from the ancient times women in Kashmir have always played
a pivotal role, powerful leaders like Queen Didda, who ruled over almost the whole of what is Kashmir
today, to Krishna Hutheesing, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, and Begum Akbar Jahan Abdullah, Kashmiri women
have been the inspiration for the generation next.
Kashmir has produced many women achievers than one could ever imagine and their achievements
have been no less than those from their counterparts in rest of India.
A survey conducted by an NGO prior to the abrogation of J&K’s special status had revealed that 90% of
women in Kashmir used to believe that becoming an entrepreneur or aiming high was very challenging
mostly due to the pressure exerted by the society and the fear of the gun. However, Kashmiri women
during the past few years have overcome the obstacles and have proven to the world that sky is the
limit for them. Here are a few inspiring Kashmiri women achievers, who have made the country proud.

Nusrat Jahan born in down trodden Dadoora village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district quit her job as a
community organiser in Jammu Development Authority to start her own cut-flower business in 2000.
The small business she started two decades ago has turned into a multi-crore venture with an annual
turnover of Rs 2 crore.
Her journey has not been that easy as she didn’t have the market for the product she chose to build her
career upon.
During the past 20-years a lot has changed in Kashmir and so has the flower business. The demand for
fresh flowers has increased and many fresh flower shops have come across the Valley.
In a place like Kashmir men starting a business venture is a common thing but woman tries to don the
mantle of a businesswomen it’s considered as something very unusual. But Jahan ventured into the field
of floriculture, which is dominated by men even in 2021, but she has carved a niche for herself and has
proven beyond any doubt that women can be better than men.

Arifa Jan after completing her graduation from University of Kashmir pursued a 2-year Craft
Management and Entrepreneurial Leadership program at Craft Development Institute (CDI) in Srinagar.
She was granted a scholarship by CDI and went to Kyrgyzstan for specialized training. After Masters, she
started working on the Namada—a traditional carpet made by rolling and pressing wool— revival
project, setting up her first business unit at Srinagar’s Sekidafar locality in 2012. She was awarded a US
Citizenship Eligibility Certificate in 2014 by the United States State Department for Women
Entrepreneurship Programme.
After returning from the US, she opened two more units in Srinagar’s Noorbagh and Nawa Kadal
localities.
She went on to employ 25 Kashmiri artisans and trained more than 100 Kashmiri women. Arifa also
increased the wages of the artisans from Rs 175 to Rs 450 per day

Captain Sami Ara Surury, hailing from Sumbal Sonawari area in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district
earned her Commercial Pilot License (CPL) in the year 1994. She was the first Kashmiri woman to fly
commercial planes.
She went against the wishes of her own family as they wanted her to become a doctor and settle quietly
in life. She applied for a job as a cabin crew and went on to become a commercial pilot, it was a
strenuous journey for the simple Kashmiri girl, as militancy was at its peak in the Valley.
She obtained her CPL by completing her pilot training from Texas, USA. She is presently 48 and an Airbus
pilot – an inspiration to all those young women who dream and aim to fly high.

Dr. Ruveda Salam, hailing from north Kashmir’s Kupwara district cleared the UPSC exam twice. Once she
was recruited under IPS, and the next time she bagged a rank for IAS. She was the first woman to
successfully clear the IPS exam in 2013 from the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir.
Dr. Ruveda, a MBBS graduate from Srinagar completed her graduation from the Government Medical
College, Srinagar. After that, she ventured into preparing for the civil services exam. She cleared the
Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) exam before taking up UPSC Exam.
Amidst the not-so-healthy conditions prevailing in Jammu & Kashmir for a very long time she aimed
to become an IAS officer right from her childhood days. She cleared the exam in her very first attempt.
After her recruitment to the IPS cadre, she flew to Hyderabad for further induction and training
purposes. Later she served as the Assistant Commissioner of Police in the state of Tamil Nadu in
Chennai.
Though she made it to the top cadre in the first civil service exam attempt, she always aimed for more.
Hence, she took up the exam and cleared successfully in a much higher ranking. So, she jumped to the
IAS cadre.

Mehvish Mushtaq is the first Kashmiri to create an android app called ‘Dial Kashmir’. She was awarded
with Nari Shakti Puraskar in 2018 from President Ramnath Kovind.
Mehvish pursued B.E in Computer Science from SSM College of Engineering and Technology in Pattan
area of Baramulla district in north Kashmir.
Technology always fascinated Mehvish from a very young age. She always wanted to contribute
something to her motherland by staying right there.
Mehvish acknowledged that finding contact details of an essential service had always been a tough task
for people in Kashmir. She also shared an incident when once she had to call her cousin’s school for
something important but couldn’t find contact details. She reckoned that everyone faced such problems
in connecting to various services and that’s how the idea to develop the app occurred to her.
One day while surfing on Facebook, Mehvish came across an advertisement of a company that provided
training for android app development. She clicked on the link and took the short course in 2013. As a
part of an important project of the course, all the students were required to develop an app
independently. That’s how ‘Dial Kashmir’ was born. It took two weeks for Mehvish to develop the first
version of the app. And this is when 23-year-old Mehvish became the first Kashmiri to develop an android app

Dr Sharmeen Mushtaq, mother of two, surprised many people in Kashmir in 2018 by participating in a
snow car rally. She was the first Kashmiri woman to participate in the risky snow car rally in Gulmarg.
She competed with men in the two-day risk-filled car rally but lived her dream.
Before participating in the rally Dr Sharmeen had said that to participate in the rally was an opportunity
to test her nerves and skills.
While car racing in this part of the world is still a male-dominated sport, Dr Sharmeen was the first one
to break the glass ceiling

Harjap Singh

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