|Picture 1: Women under the program showing their products (e.g. mats, baskets) which will be painted with colour and finished with lacquer. The products are sold at exhibitions across India.|
The Action Center for Transformation (ACT)’s Women Livelihood Program is currently in its second year, with 10 women under the programme. The aim of this project is to enhance the lives of these women upgrading the income-earning ability of the women, seven of them are married and three unmarried. This is done by developing the skills of the women in the making and selling of hand-crafted items. It also makes use of ACT’s current initiative of collecting newspapers to recycle. The catalyst of the Women Livelihood Project was the desire to find a way to recycle the newspaper into something more valuable. In synergizing these two projects, two goals are met – the recycling of newspapers and the enhancement of the incomes of the urban poor.
|Picture 2: Rena, a village woman, making strips of rolled newspaper which will be weaved into products later|
The project runs over 3 years. The first year is teaching and development of the skills of the women to produce the items. A craft designer on the ACT team is in charge of teaching the women the skills needed. The second year is focused on selling the products to the market. Under the programme, the women have travelled domestically to companies such as Panasonic to teach their craft. To date, the women have visited several companies. They visit universities to hold exhibitions to display and sell their wares or to teach their craft as well. The third year is devoted to teach the women the marketing and enterprise skills they need to make the project completely self-sustaining by the community. For the first and second years, ACT will be in charge of marketing the products of the women. However, this role will be passed on to the women in the third year. ACT will then move on to the role of an adviser instead of an operator of the project. The project will then be the community’s to run for many years to come.
Apart from increasing the incomes of the women in the village, there are various other indirect benefits that the villagers have seen. First, the households of the women are now better able to put their children to school and pay for the other educational materials required, such as books and uniforms. This ensures that the next generations of the village’s children have better lives through more secure, higher-paying jobs.
|Picture 3: The children of the women under ACT's Women Livelihood Programe playing a game of strings|
It also elevates the role of traditional Indian women from housewives to potential income contributors to the households as well. Interviews of women for case studies on the effects of such programmes have seen women having a greater say in the decisions of the family, in a traditional village where gender inequality is still prevalent.
To view the products of these women and support the omen Livelihood Programme by making a purchase, please visit ACT’s Facebook page here.