First citizen to carpenter: Many firsts in Famita Bano’s hat

IOK - Indian Occupied Kashmir Jammu & Kashmir

A year after Fatima Bano, a resident of Choskore village in the Union Territory of Ladakh, became the first woman from Kargil to get a ‘Ladakh resident’ certificate, she added another feather to her cap by becoming the first woman carpenter of Ladakh. Back in 2021, local officials organized special camps to issue documents across the district. Kargil Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Tsering Motup issued the first resident certificate at the tehsildar’s office.

Nearly three months after reserving all subordinate services for local residents, the Ladakh administration on provisionally defined ‘residents of the Union Territory’ for the purpose of appointment to all non-gazetted posts at the establishment of any department or service. An order was also issued in this regard. As per the Ladakh Resident Certificate Order 2021, any person who has a Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) issued by the Competent Authority in Leh and Kargil or belongs to the category of persons eligible for issue of PRC by the Competent Authority shall be ‘ shall be entitled to obtain ‘Resident Certificate’. On August 5, 2019, the central government bifurcated the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories and carved out Ladakh as a separate union territory.

Now back to her latest feat, 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 back when she used to help her husband in his carpentry business.

Nicknamed ‘Aunt with a Hammer’, Fatima learned the finer points of carpentry within a few years. Living with a family of six including her husband and five children, she says her family has been her backbone.

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

Fatima said she decided to take up carpentry after realizing that her husband needed an extra hand at work.

However, finding work as a carpenter was not always easy as the field is male-dominated. She says people shamed her, but that didn’t deter her. “There is no shame in doing anything unless it is illegal.”

They are well-versed in carpentry as well as embroidery and weaving. She believes that one needs the courage to do what he/she wants to do but few people get the encouragement.

Once successful, their perception of her changed. “They say I’m an inspiration to others,” said Fatima.

The stereotype around her job led many to advise her to stay home and take care of the kids. “I always choose to ignore such opinions.”

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

Her five children also help her after school. “When my children return from school, they join us.”

“People make fun of us for involving 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,” Fatima signs