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Usha And Army Wives Welfare Association Transforming Lives Through Vocational Training

Usha And Army Wives Welfare Association Transforming Lives Through Vocational Training

The Indian armed forces have always been front and centre in safeguarding the nation's security. Members of the armed forces have devoted their entire lives to the service of the people in more ways than one. Along with protecting the nation, the Indian armed forces are building empowered communities across the country. Working for the welfare of the family members of army personnel is the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA).

Also Read: Making Women Self-Reliant Through Usha-Common Service Centre Certification

“The AWWA continuously works for the upliftment and empowerment of the families. We want the families to be confident and self-reliant. As a part of the AWWA, we have vocational training courses and it runs across the country across military stations,” said Raksha Khullar, Coordinator of Family Welfare Organisation, Army Wives Welfare Association in Beas.

One such vocational training course is the result of a partnership between the Indian Army and Usha International Limited that is empowering women who live in and around the Army unit in Beas, Punjab. Renowned for its skill development program in sewing and tailoring, Usha's training cum production centre is enabling the wives of Army personnel at the village level to become financially independent.

Anamika Sharma, Trainer at Usha Silai School said,

Our classes started in May. This was the basic course which included the making of ladies, gents, and children's clothes. We started with the basics such as how to thread a needle and how to operate the machine.

Since the sewing machine comes in its most basic form, two days of mechanical training were organised to teach women how to assemble a machine and repair it.

Also Read: Usha Silai App - Teaching Women The Art Of Stitching And Sewing

The centre provides 25 days of training to 15 women in sewing and stitching. After completing the training, the newly trained women will be able to train others who will join the next batch. Usha's 25-day training is divided into two phases - 15 days of initial training, and after six months, 10 days of advanced training. The curriculum covers various aspects of sewing, such as stitching, embroidery, and garment design, enabling women to create marketable products.

Sangita Kumari, one of the trainees from the Usha Silai School in Beas knew nothing about sewing until she enrolled herself in the training progamme organised by the Army. Similarly, Asha learned to sew petticoats, bloomers for children and skirts, shirts and palazzos for school girls.

Lauding the training programme, Monika, another trainee said,

Earlier I didn't know how to sew; I had studied till the MA level. Women should take advantage of courses like these organised in the army. There was a course in sewing here and we showed an interest in learning so that we can look after ourselves and our children through sewing.

The primary objectives of the Indian Army's association with the Usha Silai Schools are to empower army wives with skills, provide alternate sources of income, particularly in remote or conflict-prone areas, and enable beneficiaries to explore entrepreneurship and contribute to their family's financial well-being.

Also Read: In Jammu And Kashmir's Shopian, Usha Swavalamban Silai School Is Helping Women Stitch Resilience, Hope And Independence

Usha Silai Schools also establish community centers in army residential areas, creating hubs for skill development, knowledge sharing, and community bonding.

Ranjana, one of the trainees, enrolled herself in the training programme to become “self-reliant and confident”. She added,

By doing this training, we are enhancing our self-confidence and sending out a message on women's empowerment.

These women wouldn't talk to each other; they would hesitate. But, now that they engage in various learning programmes and activities and work together, it is helping them build an interpersonal relationship and support one another, explained the trainer Anamika Sharma.

Sharing her learnings, Ranjana said,

Here we were taught how to interact with people who ask us about our products, how to sew, how to fix mistakes while sewing and how to handle situations with patience.

With continued commitment and expansion, this partnership has the potential to transform the lives of countless army wives, making them self-reliant and resilient contributors to both their families and the nation.

Also Read: In Odisha's Rourkela, Women Are Stitching A Life Of Financial Independence With Usha

Talking about the benefits of the program, Lakshmi, a trainee from Usha Silai School said,

We no longer need to go out to get our clothes stitched. The women here have learned very well.

Calling it a “great opportunity” to work with the Indian Army, Harish Tripathi, Coordinator at Usha Silai School in Punjab said,

Usha has had the experience of working with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and we are also working with the Indo Tibetan Border Police. The Usha women stitch uniforms of CRPF personnel. The uniforms which they would get stitched outside are now being stitched at our centre.

For nearly 60 years the Army Wives Welfare Association has worked for the welfare and empowerment of the families and dependents of those in the Army. And that's exactly what the collaboration between the Indian Army and Usha Silai Schools is achieving. The vocational training, sewing machines, and entrepreneurial support aren't just creating financial independence and empowering women, they are also strengthening a sense of self and community within the families of the Indian Army.

Also Read: Usha And NEEPCO Are Empowering Women Through Skill Enhancement And Employment Prospects

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Adopt a Silai School

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

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.