What is women’s empowerment?
Women’s empowerment is a way of enabling gender equality, a basic human right. All over the world, we see a disparity between the way women and men are treated. In India, although progress has been made, there is still a significant divide, often in rural areas between men and women. Women can be married at a young age, and then take on the role of the home maker for the rest of their lives. This means levels of literacy are poor, which leads to low self confidence and an inability to make their own choices and decisions.
Why is empowering girls and women so important?
The basic right of every person should be that they have an education and can stay safe from violence. There is a lot of research that shows education and empowerment in women leads to living a healthier, happier life and can break the cycle of poverty. The Census report of 2011 showed that almost 30% of India live below the poverty line in India.
The work of Animedh Charitable Trust
I was surprised to read that in 2017, according to the UN, men can legally prevent their wives from working in 18 countries. While one of these countries isn’t India, there is still a large percentage of women who may not have had much of an education and so aren’t able to work, or work in poor conditions. Fortunately however, there are social enterprises like Animedh Charitable Trust that create opportunities and an enabling environment for empowerment. ACT works on projects to impart life skills, provide vocational training, and facilitate earning opportunities. The trust runs an outreach programme to women from low income groups who live in the slums of Mumbai. They are then offered a three month training course in advanced tailoring. Graduates of this programme have gone on to run successful enterprises, gain employment as a tailor or may have become teachers within the training course themselves. They are able to earn a sustainable income, often from their own homes, and are able to become financially independent.
Rajshree is one of the oldest artisans at ACT. Before she was married, Rajshree used to work in the steel industry as a coating worker. However, with marriage came family duties and she stopped working. A few years later, her husband lost his job and became an auto rickshaw driver, but it meant a less stable and more irregular income for the family. Rajshree found it was becoming difficult to manage the household expenses and she convinced her family members that she might be able to add a wage too. She joined the earliest project of ACT called Shivaan and went on to graduate from advanced training in tailoring. After that she has never looked back. When she first joined ACT, she felt a lack of confidence and was unsure of her skills as a tailor. As time went on and as she worked on different products, Rajshree improved in her skills and grasped all qualities of tailoring very quickly. She is thankful to ACT and Pri Pri for supporting her and making her self- dependent!
Her message to all the women – "Work hard and be financially independent."