Coming from a highly conservative background, she had never ever stepped out of her house alone. Today, not only has she travelled to several cities in India, she has displayed her handicrafts at a Swiss Embassy exhibition and dreams of setting up her own fashion range one day!
And Farheen is not a single case. She is part of a revolution spurred by a group of enthusiastic young women of Jaipur, who have broken the shackles of tradition to find an identity of their own. The group has been formed by an NGO, Hunnar, which began its movement in Bhatta Basti, Nahari Ka Naka in Jaipur involving nearly 75 women from the underprivileged section. “We started this group under the aegis of Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS) with a motive to combat social and economic deprivation among women. To make them financially independent, enhancing their traditional embroidery and stitching skills seemed the easiest thing to begin with,” says founder secretary, BGVS, Rajasthan wing, Komal Srivastava.
“We introduced workshops where these women learn hand embroidery which is quite a rage these days. It’s remarkable that within 6 months these women have got orders from another Delhi based NGO, that does handwork for various national and international fashion houses,” shares treasurer Nirja Mishra, who is also the ex vice-principal of Kanodia College. Indeed, the initiative has brought about a major change in the lives of these women. From being totally dependent on their husbands for a living to gaining financial independence, they are on the fast track to discover themselves. There are some women who have been victims of wife battering, marital rape and molestation too. “As these women are now contributing to the family income, they command respect from their families and their relationships with their husbands have improved as the husbands have started believing in their wives’ capabilities,” says Lee, a volunteer from Taiwan, who works with these women now. And while girls like Farheen are new comers, there are others, who are already successful, and help the new entrants find a foothold. Stories of women like Sanjeeda, who found her independence after she joined this group, abound. Sanjeeda lost her husband to cancer, and had no source of income. That’s when she found these women and began her new life. And today, leaving behind her sad past she instills hope in women of the basti and dares them to dream.
“Besides the technical training, the women are also getting trained in various other aspects such as understanding the market, the current demand, networking, importance of networking, quality control, discipline and delivering orders on time,” explains Sanjeeda.
Recently the group participated in an exhibition organised by the Swiss Embassy in Delhi where they displayed handmade bags, mobile covers and other artifacts. “The women travelled to Delhi for the first time and were so excited to see the overwhelming response their creations got from foreigners,” she shares.
Owner of a fashion house in Jaipur, Alok Singh Rathore who picks up kurtas made by these women, says, “It’s so heartening to see how these women have made the best of their new-found freedom. Their work has quality in it and the best part is that they are very professional in their approach.
Models Srishti and Kanchan flaunt kurtas created by women of the group (TOI Photo)
Credits: Thanks to "The Better India" newsletter for bringing this story to notice.
I have been voluntarily involved with many NGOs in India since 2002. I strongly believe that all of us can do more by coming together, sharing ideas and working together to address social issues! A techie by training - I have a Bachelor of Technology from IIT Bombay and Masters of Science from U.....read more