(As published in The Times of India, Lucknow on November 21st, 1998)
|Mrs Sarla Sharma working for the upliftment of women|
She was in her early teens when she decided that she would devote her life to the upliftment of women. Today, Sarla Sharma, Vice President of All India Women Conference (Lucknow branch), is working towards fulfilling her teenage resolution.
During the early 40’s, women were confined within the house. It was a time when women’s education was low and the parda tradition was in vogue. The condition of women was deplorable and they dared not raise their voice against social injustice, informs Mrs Sharma.
Mrs Sharma was in high school when she joined Mahila Mandal. The job of the Mandal was to persuade ladies to attend the meeting, an extremely difficult task as their family members were dead against it.
After completing her intermediate, she was married to a civil servant. Her desire to work for the upliftment of females was suspended but she continued to pursue her education.
At the age of 36, she joined DAV College, Dehra Dun. Classes were usually conducted in the morning session. After doing her daily chores, she used to catch the school bus. She recalls an incident when while waiting for the bus in the foggy weather of January, ADM and SSP’s jeep stopped in front of her.
They offered to drop her to her destination. She was highly embarrassed and on their insistence said, “I am going to attend my classes.” They were surprised and questioned her why at this age she is undergoing all this trouble. She replied that, “I did not want my children to think of me as illiterate fool and neither do I want my husband to develop any sort of complex before others.”
Mrs Sharma tried to help the women and children at every station where her husband was posted. And slowly her urge to work for females culminated in her joining the AIWC.
She contented, “We have constructed maternity home, family planning centre, training centre for imparting education to girls so that they can not only stand on their feet but also get educated.”
They have recently opened a chikan training centre. Apart from women’s welfare, she is also working for older people.
She is proposing to develop pensioners’ home for the aged. She says, “When the God has given me the opportunity to serve then why should I turn my back on it.”
By Seema Bhatnagar