Empowering Women Series – CSR Initiatives

When we design a CSR initiative, what are the objectives we seek to achieve? A corporate social responsibility program that made a difference. The efforts of an Indian Sewing Machine manufacturing company to create a viable source of livelihood for women across India by setting up Sewing Schools is chronicled in the story below. This corporate initiative works towards women empowerment by making village women become entrepreneurs who are taught sewing and stitching within the precincts of their homes.

An Indian Sewing Machine manufacturing company aims to work with the women in the villages and believes that helping women develop their inherent latent potentialities would bring about a holistic development for the society at large. In the last three years the company through a Sewing School Program has reached out to remote villages across the country. This is a community based initiative with the aim of empowering village women to become entrepreneurs and teach sewing and stitching within the precincts of their homes. This programme is necessarily “inclusive” in character, thereby implying that the programme is implemented for the economically poor irrespective of caste, class, religion or creed.

images (1)As on February 2015, in partnership with 48 NGO partners there are 10,185 Silai Schools being run across India. The company has trained (in stitching, tailoring and repairing of machines) all village women, provided them a sewing machine, a syllabus and a Silai School signage and encouraged them to teach other community women the art of stitching and sewing. The trainings have been conducted in their vernacular language with the syllabus available in the same language. More than 36,000 learners have completed their course from Silai Schools and nearly 8000 learners continue to get sewing skills training every day from these schools.

images (2)The schools are making a marked difference in the lives of the women. The women, on an average have started earning Rs. 3000/- per month, with the highest earning going up to Rs.18,000/- per month. This earning, though small, at the moment is working as a catalyst in building the self-confidence of women and raising her status within and outside the family. This financial income and increased self-worth is facilitating in creation of empowered change agents in the villages of India.

imagesThe positive results from the Silai Schools in the villages have created a lot enthusiasm amongst the people in the adjoining Silai School villages too. There is an increased demand from the community about starting Silai Schools in the nearby villages and hence the concept of starting the Satellite Silai Schools (SSS) have been started from Aug 2014. Under the SSS model, Silai Schools would be started by any women knowing sewing and stitching (preferably a learner from the existing Silai School) in the neighbouring village. She would then start teaching others or doing job work. By March 2015, the company plans to start about 6,000 SSS across the country. Hence, by this period they aim to have covered 9,000 villages in all the states of India.

The company also recently launched the Silai School Programme in Bhutan in association with Tarayana Foundation.