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Assam's Mumtaz Begum: A Shining Example Of Women Empowerment

Assam's Mumtaz Begum: A Shining Example Of Women Empowerment
Golaghat: One of Assam's largest districts and home to the world famous Kaziranga National Park, Golaghat is the place where local ethnic groups have struggled for years over identity, land and opportunities. Post-independence, Assam has frequently witnessed sporadic and gruesome conflicts that have led to the displacement of many in the state. In all the conflict-related displacement, often caused due to cases of abduction, rape, slavery and other forms of abuse, women and young girls have been the major casualties.

One such woman living in the interiors of the same district in Chotarajan Kathani Pathar village, is Mumtaz Begum.

Being one of the few fortunate women of Golaghat, she has never had trouble putting food on the table for her family of five. Mumtaz was living a fairly content life until 2008, the year her husband passed away.

As the years went by, Mumtaz's three children grew up and expenses became hard to manage. It was then that she had to look at other options to find a regular source of income. Being left alone to fend for herself, Mumtaz received encouragement from The Kamakhaya Jana Kalyan Trust, an NGO which primarily works in three sectors - education, health and empowerment of women, with a focus on skill development.
 
kushalta ke kadam mumtaz begum assam
Also Read: Stitching As Her Weapon, Pratibha Takes On Life's Challenges

As USHA Silai School shortlists women from very low-income families, they provide them with one sewing machine each and other essential raw materials which are required to start a training school of their own. As a result, these women become self-reliant and are able to earn, save and invest to secure their future.

"The Usha Silai School trainers asked me if I had ever taught anyone," she said. "They encouraged me to learn techniques and start teaching others. In 2011, I finished the course, and by word-of-mouth people found out that I had opened a training school."
 
Since then, Mumtaz has trained over 79 women in her village. Having a steady source of income, Mumtaz invested in expanding her business and stabilising her life.
 

I took loans available under government schemes. I took loans in 2011 and repaid it by 2016. I had taken 4 loans - Rs. 30,000 from Bandhan, Rs. 20,000 from HDFC Bank, Rs. 25,000 from RGBN and Rs. 25,000 from Arohan. I spent most of the loan amount on setting up the Silai training school, used some to rebuild my house and saved a little in the bank.


Her little venture showed such promising growth that she has had to employ two co-workers to help her run the training school.

"Apart from running the training school, I buy cloth in bulk and make scarves, which are regularly bought by the tea garden labourers. I get Rs. 60 for each scarf, after paying for the raw materials. I also sell petticoats" she informs about her additional source of income.

"It's a lucrative business" she said. "Even though I spend on purchasing the raw materials, I often recover the cost."

Today, Mumtaz lives a self-sufficient life and has gained the respect of many in her village. After all not many can recover from a setback and reinvent themselves like Mumtaz.

"Everyone in my village is proud of me" she said. "Since my husband passed away, I run the family with my own income. If i didn't have this skill, I would not have been able to survive."

The by-product of her hard work and passion has transformed not just her life but also lives of those women who have trained under her.

I have been teaching young girls in my school. I feel the mindsets of people are changing towards women who work.

Mumtaz wishes to see more women take up the silai training and start their own schools so that they can empower themselves and the society around them.

Also Read: After She Lost Her Son Kalpana Kamadi Decided To Reinvent Herself

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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 NDTV and USHA, aims at empowering women from rural India and encourages them to become entrepreneurs by taking up sewing and training others in their respective communities. Since 2011 Usha Silai Campaign has trained more than 3.95 lakh rural women within five years, with 17,000 Silai schools, spanning over 9272 Indian villages in India.

 

Kushalta Ke Kadam in Season 4 has returned with new goals and vision. The new season will witness the establishment of the new cluster in Kashmir, apart from the existing four clusters setup last year. The women from volatile Kashmir will work with well-known fashion designer Rohit Bal and get an unique opportunity to learn from him and make clothes for him. The work done by the Silai School women will be presented at Lakme Fashion week 2019.

 

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In Pics

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

Rebari girls grow up learning traditional embroidery, which along with their new found sewing skills developed at Usha Silai Schools, is helping them earn a living.

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

The Usha Silai School, established in a small nondescript village that goes by the name of Kottai, is helping empower people from varied communities.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The all-inclusive Usha Silai School Programme covers the entire nation from hamlets tucked between hills to villages cast by the sea.

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.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

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.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

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

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