Is there a retirement age ? Officially, yes. But, four women from different strata of life seek to contest this.

Though the official retirement age in India is 58, for many women, depending on the health and family commitments, it is often earlier. But there are women who continue working irrespective of age, defying this perception. This is either due to compulsion because they do not want to be dependent on their kin, or because of the love they have for their chosen profession.

On International Women’s Day we look at four women from different walks of life, all above the age of 75, who continue to be income generators.

One is a sweeper, the second is a woman who bathes infants, the third is a homoeopath, and the fourth is a business woman.

75-plus-old Lakshmi working as a sweeper in a residential colony in Sulur, continues to work as she does not want to be a burden on her grandchildren. Having led a considerably comfortable life when her husband was alive, Lakshmi started to fend for herself after his time. Though her income varies every month, she still has money and things to spare for her grandson when he visits her once in a while.

For 77-year-old Vasantha Samuel, a homeopath by profession, practicing homoeopathy is a way of reaching out to society. Ensuring that she gets at least Rs. 20,000 as a monthly income, she treats others free of cost. A mother of four, two of whom are homoeopaths with flourishing practice, she continues in her modest home doling out medicines.

For 78-year-old Aaraiyammal, the Rs. 3,000 she gets every month bathing infants feeds her and her widowed daughter who stays with her. Instead of looking to her sons and grandchildren for occasional support, she ensures that the clothes, toys and other goodies she gets from the homes she works in, reaches them.

For 85-year-old Jana Tharakaram, partner in Tharakaram Silk House, spending time in the shop she set up with her husband decades ago is a daily routine. With four children who are well settled and a daughter-in-law who takes care of the shop, she can enjoy blissful retirement. But she has chosen not to.

These women represent the class that believes in living life with dignity and putting to optimum use the physical and other resources that are within their capacity.