American fast-food chains have become an unlikely source of female employment and empowerment in India, a country where traditionally most women are kept from working outside the home.
The increasingly female face of a new Indian workforce shines at suburban Delhi’s Mall of India. Close to half of the employees in its five floors of newly opened food and fashion outlets are women. Just across the street in the old shopping district, females are few and far between. Even the women’s clothing stores are almost entirely manned by men.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable working with so many other men there,” said Poonam Rawat, a 21-year-old woman who works at Wendy’s in the mall. “Besides, my family would never give me permission.”