As India’s economy grows, reports have indicated alarming drops in the percentage of women in its workforce. From a high of 31 percent more than a decade ago, the number has dropped to about 23 percent in recent years. The reasons for this are myriad and include shifts in agricultural labour, which makes up the largest part of the female workforce; and changing social pressures and mores.
What this means is that women are becoming even less visible in Indian public life. In cities, more women in the workforce means more women in the streets and on public transport, which makes life safer for everyone. In both rural and urban areas, women who work gain social clout within their families, becoming decision makers by virtue of their earning power.
For International Women’s Day, we decided to profile eight women in fields that are typically associated with men. These women are engaged in diverse occupations—from patching 20kg truck tires to building nanosized cell culture models for pharmaceutical testing. Their motivations vary widely, with some responding to practical concerns and other following their passions, but they all have one thing in common: an indomitable resolve to be counted as equal citizens.