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Here's How USHA And Meghalaya Government Are Giving Employment Opportunities To Women And Protecting Environment

Bright sunshine brings warmth on a bone-chilling December morning in Meghalaya. The serpentine roads take us through a forest to a remote village, Songsak in East Garo hills. The morning is also bringing new hope in the lives of these women who have come to an assessment programme, in order to be enrolled at the USHA and Meghalaya State Rural Livelihoods Society, or MSRLS, training-cum-production centre.

With the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board and Forest and Environment Department enforcing plastic waste management rules and the government resultantly encouraging the use of cloth bags, the MSRLS saw this as an opportunity to curb pollution and also create employment. And that is what led to their collaboration with the USHA Silai School for training centres across the state.

Also Read: USHA Is Working With Alkem Laboratories To Uplift Rural Women of Himachal Pradesh

The association was initially started with two demonstration centres but their success led to the opening of 14 new training cum production centres, covering nine districts of Meghalaya.

Talking to NDTV about the expansion of the project, Shanlang Lyngdoh, COO of Meghalaya State Rural Livelihoods Society said,

We found that the women are very enthusiastic to learn the skills and the knowledge that they have gained through these centres by master trainers deputed by USHA. It seemed that there is a very good outcome as the women who have passed out from these centres have started their own units. We hope that with this initiative we will be able to remove poverty in rural areas especially, those areas which are semi-urban. This would be an opportunity for them that they learn the skills and start livelihood activities through tailoring.

This assessment programme is being organised in the East Garo hills, a tribal area with no prior sewing centres. These women are here to learn a skill they have very limited knowledge about.

Also Read: USHA-Bhansali Trust Foundation Gives New Hope To Women In Gujarat, Provides Them Silai Training

Giving out details of the assessment programme, Sadhna Sharma, Deputy Department Manager (North East), USHA said,

For the assessment programme, we contact the government officials, they call the ladies in their block. Once they come, we give them a question paper with basic questions about measurements, and what other things will be required for drafting. It's to get an idea of how much they know about sewing. Secondly, we ask them to stitch.

The women are busy writing their answers; some are facing difficulties as they can't read or write. Some don't know the basics of sewing but are eager to learn, while some know the basics but can't sew in a straight line. The one thing all these women have in common is a fierce desire for financial independence.

In another part of Meghalaya, Mairang, a new training cum production centre has been inaugurated where women are learning the basics of sewing. Being a tribal area, language could be a barrier. But these women won't let that come between them and their dreams. The master trainer Rumpi is teaching the women how to measure and cut the cloth. The first goal of this training is to teach women how to sew in a straight line.

Also Read: USHA Silai School Teachers Head 'Satoliya' Teams For Sport Event In Heerapura, Rajasthan

Rumpi Hendi, Silai School Teacher, USHA said,

Some of them have little knowledge while others don't know much. But by the time the training is over, they will learn a lot. And they will gain self-confidence that they can do this.

The women are given a piece of cloth with chalk markings. It is only with practice that they will perfect the skill of sewing in a straight line. And so the practical training begins with the women taking to their machines.

Rumpi goes around the room giving everyone feedback and helping them sew straight.

Some of these women and girls are from the Khasi tribe. They have had very limited exposure to the outside world. They believe sewing will give them that exposure and identity.

Banri Rimpeit, Trainee, USHA Silai School said,

I hope this training will help me a lot in doing a good job.

Once the women complete their training, they will be making cloth bags and contributing to the environment in their own small way. The partnership between USHA and MSRLS is working towards a mutual goal of community building by helping uplift a key section of it.

​Also Read: USHA-Shyam Metalics Provides Skill Development To Women In West Bengal And Odisha

Talking about the positive impact of the training on women, Ram Krishna, CEO of Meghalaya State Rural Livelihoods Society said,

The direct impact which we can see on the lives of the women is that their income has increased. The increase in their disposable incomes increases the overall well-being of not just women but their families. When it comes to the environment, because of the encouragement that we give to not only stitching of clothes but also cotton bags which are very helpful in replacing plastic bags.

Adding to this, Mary Rupa Tete, Vice-President of USHA Social Services said,

Government partnerships with the USHA Silai School programme are proving to be very significant in terms of their impact and reach in the lives of rural women. Government agencies that have been wanting to work with rural women on skill development and entrepreneurship development find a ready platform in the USHA Silai School programme. The programme has a presence in all states and Union Territories of India and has a robust MIS system which reports data for regular view and monitoring. We have 75 NGO partners who are very credible and dedicated to this work. We also provide customised content in 10 regional languages and also master trainers who can do training in various regional languages.

Learn to earn is the message USHA is sending through these Silai centres, and these women are not only being trained in skill but are on the path to becoming providers in society.

​Also Read: People With Disabilities Grace USHAs Mallakhamb Event In Villupuram, Tamil Nadu

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Adopt a Silai School

Do you want to be a part of the huge change that Usha Silai School is bringing about in the lives of millions of rural women? With just a simple click of a button, you can now contribute towards the opening of an Usha Silai School or support various other aspects of the school.

About the Initiative

About the Initiative

Kushalta Ke Kadam, an initiative by USHA Silai School and NDTV has entered its eighth season. The aim is to empower more women across rural India by teaching them sewing skills and helping them open new doors of opportunities for themselves. The initiative encourages rural women to become financially independent and entrepreneurs by taking up sewing and training others in their respective communities.


Since 2011, the USHA Silai School initiative has trained more than 12 lakh rural women through over 33,000 Silai schools, spanning over 20,751 villages across India.


The women earn Rs. 4,000 – 5,000 per month on an average, with the highest recorded monthly earning being Rs. 84,000 in a month. This earning works as a catalyst towards building their self-confidence, reducing gender inequities, and raising their stature within their families and in society at large.


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In Pics

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching
Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

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Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School has empowered many rural women to support their family and send their children to school.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

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Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

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Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Vegetables farmers from the Mizoram hills earn very little given the topography of the area. Usha Silai Schools have played an important part in this region by skilling women to financially contribute towards their households.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School learner Lucy has trained seven other women in her community, helping them to become financially independent.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Women like Kaviben from the nomadic Rebari community are finally laying down their roots as they begin to gain financial independence and thereby stability through Usha Silai School.

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Usha Silai School, located in the Gujarat's Bhuj village, is enabling rural women to earn as much as Rs. 2,500-4,000 each month.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, in association with a Gujarat based NGO called Kala Raksha, is trying to bring about a Silai revolution in Bhuj.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Besides training other women from their community, many Usha Silai School learners have become entrepreneurs in their own right.

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With sewing becoming easily accessible and lucrative, the silai schools are also helping revive traditional motifs and designs.