by Maleeha Sofi

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SRINAGAR: Fatima Bano, a mother of five, from the cold desert region of Kargil is scripting a change by mastering the art of male-dominated carpentry.

She started her journey 25 years ago when she used to help her husband in the carpentry business.

Nicknamed, ‘Aunty with a Hammer’, Fatima picked up the nuances of carpentry in just a couple of years. Living with a family of six including her husband and five children, she says that her family has been her backbone.

“My family always supported me in my decision and that is the reason I have been working for so long.”

Fatima said she decided to pursue carpentry after realising that her husband needs an extra hand at work.

However, working as a carpenter wasn’t always easy because the field is male-dominated. She says she was shamed by people but that didn’t cow her down. “There is no shame in doing any work unless it is unlawful.”

Along with carpentry, she is also well-versed in embroidery and knitting. She believes that a person needs the courage to do what he/she wants but only a few get encouragement.

Once successful, the perception about her changed. She is now seen as a model. “They say that I am an inspiration for others.”

The stereotyping around her job had led many people advise her to stay home and look after the children. “I always choose to ignore such opinions.”

Having mastered her job, Fatima is now making all types of furniture. She has also become proficient in wood carving and polishing.

Her five children help her too after their school. “When my children return from school, they join us. People mock us that we have involved our children in our work, but as long as we work with dignity, we don’t pay heed to criticism.”

“Those who are ashamed of their work never learn anything in life.”

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