Shantabai is a traditional woman who knew little or nothing about gender stereotype. But she defied the assumption about that fact when she was faced with the problem of a hunger and starvation.
Shantanbai Shrapati Yadav is the first female barber in India, her late father was a barber and so was her late husband. She got married at the age of 12 to late Mr. Shripati Yadav. Barbing was a part time job for Mr. Shripati who was a farmer. He worked as a barber to add to his income but when there was a rift between him and his brothers, they split the farm land between themselves and Shripati had less than an acre of land to farm on. He decided to concentrate on his barbing business in order to feed is family.
Mr. Shripati and his family moved to Hasursasgiri village to start a new life. Fortunately, there were no barbers in Hasursasgiri village, so Shantabai’s husband became the only barber there. Relocating to Hasursasgiri was a blessing to the couple.
Shripati was earning well from his barber shop and could take care of his family. But in 1984, Shripati died of a massive heart attack leaving Shantabai with not enough money to feed her four daughters and herself. It got to a point when Shantabai considered committing suicide.
After the death of her husband there were no barbers in the village and her husband’s friend suggested that she continued with her husband’s profession. At first it sounded awkward, because she had never heard of a female barber, and she wondered what the society would think of her.
This time her efforts were not fruitless. Initially, the villagers found what she was doing ludicrous. They mocked her and called her names. But Shantabai paid no attention to them she has found a way out of poverty and hunger and there was no going back. She walked for four to five kilometers everyday leaving her children behind with her neighbours to look for customers.
Amazingly, her customers began to increase daily as the news about this wonder woman spread like wild fire across neighboring villages.
Soon, the residents of Kadal, Hidadugi and Narewadi villages, where there were no barbers, became her customers. Her story covered both local and regional newspapers.
She received awards from various organisations. In 1985, she got money from the government to build a house under the Indira Gandhi Awas Yojna.
Shantabai although very old and unable to walk still has customers coming to her house to have their hair cut.