Who is giving opportunities to young women from India’s rural areas?


A bold project from KION India is.Initiative supports women with technical skills.

There is a party every time that 21-year-old Snehal Bhingardeve returns home. Her mother, Sumitra, decorates the small concrete yard outside her parent’s house in Palus in Maharashtra state with a colorful Rangoli, an elaborate decoration that is said to bring good fortune. Neighbors visit to greet and embrace the young woman, who has just travelled on the bus for four hours along a winding mountain road. Snehal begins her journey every four weeks from Pune, an industrial city in western India, so that she doesn’t feel too homesick.

The start of a career But Snehal still feels most at home when she is with her family.

A diploma secured the job

But she has never regretted leaving home at 20 to start work at KION India, 200 kilometers away in Pune. She now leads an assembler team of young women in her age group. Quite the opposite, in fact. “I’m the first woman to have left the village to find work. My friends are proud of me and want to follow in my footsteps,” she says.

Her parent’s house is a simple and robust brick house with a tin roof, surrounded by green tamarind and neem trees. Around the back there is a cow in a shed.

That Snehal was hired for the vacancy in warehouse equipment production was not just down to her uncle telling her that KION India were hiring. She also had a diploma in electrical engineering already. But it was difficult for her parents to let their daughter leave. “I was sad when Snehal moved to another city,” her mother, Sumitra, says. Her father was worried about his daughter’s safety in a city as large as Pune. The family lives in a village where girls receive little education and are married off early. “But we told Snehal and our other daughters that we will provide for their education, come what may,” Sumitra Bhingardeve says.

I’m the first woman to have left the village to find work. My friends are proud of me and want to follow in my footsteps.

Snehal Manik Bhingardeve
Production Supervisor
KION India

This is the name of a project at KION India that provides vocational training to young women from rural India. Usually, they marry young and can only dream of a career.

When we came up with the idea of a women-only assembly line, we were particularly keen on creating entry-level jobs for women from poorer backgrounds.

Sunil Gupta
CEO and Managing Director
KION India

Suddenly, she was full of confidence

Pallavi Chavan is responsible for the cabling in the yellow OM Voltas warehouse trucks. “When I came here for my job interview I knew nothing about forklift trucks,” she says. “And when I started, I was worried that I wasn’t up to the job. But once I had finished my training, I knew I could do it.” Sanyunkta Ravindra Talmale comes from Nagpur, around 700 kilometres east of Pune, even further away than Snehal. “I was very nervous during my job interview,” recalls the petite-looking Sanyunkta. “I was delighted when they hired me, as I was the first woman in my family to do a vocational apprenticeship and get a job.”

“They always add value”

Around 40 young women now work at the site in Pune, and not just in warehouse technology production, thanks to a project to advance young women at KION India. “When we came up with the idea of a women-only assembly line, we were particularly keen on creating entry-level jobs for women from poorer backgrounds,” says Sunil Gupta, CEO and Managing Director of KION India. He is full of praise for the productivity of his female employees. “They’re very disciplined and add value to everything they do.” This gave KION India’s management the idea of employing young women in other areas of the business. “They now also work in quality assurance and administration.”

700 kmeast of Pune is where Sanjyukta Ravindra Talmale is from. The young women who work at KION India often come from far away.
Artful henna tattoos and working with a spanner are not mutually exclusive.
Snehal has two sisters and a younger brother. Thanks to her job at KION India, she can support her siblings’ education.

“Now it’s a lot easier financially”

A lot has changed for Snehal and her family since she started work. “Snehal supports us financially,” her mother, Sumitra, says. With Snehal’s help, her older sister was able to train as a nurse in Pune, and she is helping to put her younger brother through school. “In the past, we had to think long and hard about spending money. But now it’s a lot easier.”

Her mother knew early on that her daughter had what it takes to make it in life. “When Snehal was in fourth grade, her teacher called to tell us that she is a brilliant, intelligent and talented girl and that we should make efforts to encourage her.”

Snehal has a clear path in mind for her career. “I’m aiming to complete my engineering degree in 2019, and I hope to work in production planning at KION.” She would also like to give something back to society. “As the first female engineer from my village, I would like to offer career counselling and guidance to boys and girls.”

Her family is always very happy to see Snehal whenever she visits – and even the neighbors come by to see her.

Working together, celebrating together.