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With 3,500 New Silai Schools In The State, USHA And West Bengal Government Uplift Thousands Of Women

With 3,500 New Silai Schools In The State, USHA And West Bengal Government Uplift Thousands Of Women
Delhi: 

27-year-old Pauli Das hailing from Daspara village in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district is the sole bread winner of the family. Pauli was left to fend for her family after her father met with a serious accident and the family couldn't afford the treatment.

When my father met with the accident, we could not even afford his treatment as we didn't have enough money. I was studying to be a block trainer and was working as the Panchayat supervisor, when one day, Panchayat asked me to learn to stitch under USHA Silai School Programme. I realised that I can do this without compromising on my studies and I can eventually start a stitching business. I filled the form and I was selected for the training. And now, I teach stitching in my own Silai School and have 25 students, with new ones joining almost every day.

Just like Pauli, about 3,500 women's lives in West Bengal are about to be transformed for good, thanks to the USHA Silai School initiative. With the common goal of empowering people at the bottom of the pyramid, in 2018 USHA and the West Bengal government collaborated on training stitching to 3,500 women from marginalised communities, by opening another 3,500 training schools in the state, as requested by the state government.

Also Read: USHA Silai School Reaches The Remotest Islands And Villages To Empower and Upskill Women

Today, around 20 per cent people of West Bengal live below the poverty line, with the majority located in rural regions. Only one out of 5 women in West Bengal completes her secondary education, which is lower than in most other states of the country. Yet, in the rural regions of this matriarchal state, women self-employment is 22 per cent ahead of men.

The first USHA Silai School in West Bengal was launched in 2012 and by 2017 the program's success caught the attention of the West Bengal Scheduled Caste And Tribe Development Finance Corporation, which led to the life-changing initiative for thousands of women.

Krishna Shriram, Chairman, USHA International Limited told NDTV,

We are proud of what we did; we started 700 schools as part of West Bengal's USHA initiative. In the business conclave held in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee acknowledged this initiative and requested USHA to start another 3,500 schools. West Bengal government realised that providing the sewing machines is not the solution but providing sewing machines along with training, is the ultimate solution,” he added.

Speaking about the initiative, Upen Biswas, Chairman, West Bengal SC-ST Development & Finance Corporations said,

What impressed me about USHA was not their brand but the work that they are doing. I visited their schools and the best part was that the women were able to make money. Supreme Court says social justice cannot be done without economical justice and the USHA program is doing just that.

Also Read: The Women From USHA Silai School Kashmir Make It To The Lakme Fashion Week 2019

When asked about the details of USHA Silai training, Saikat, Coordinator, USHA Silai School Program told NDTV that the training is a 3 step program for teaching them overall logistics of stitching.

With these new 3,500 schools that are being added in West Bengal, first the women were taught to stitch for 6 months then they were given mechanical training and enterprise training.

At the cusp of the Sundarban mangroves, USHA had set up a mechanical training centre for a batch of 20 women in a small village called Kakdwip. By the end of the program's final class, the women were equipped with all the necessary skills to open their own Silai schools.

The excitement of running an USHA Silai School is a sentiment shared by 3,500 rural women of West Bengal. Today from the paddy fields of the south to the green hills in the north, these women are on their way to becoming small enterprise owners.

27 years old Sampa Rai of Dhapganj village that lies 100 kms south of Siliguri, along with her husband have invested all their savings in the construction of a brand new Silai School.

Sharing her story, she tells NDTV,

I am independent now, me and my husband work to provide for our family, I am happy that I can support my husband financially. I have also earned a lot of respect in the society because of my work. USHA is starting another 3,500 schools in West Bengal and I am happy to get one to run! 

Also  Read: USHA Silai School Helping Nithari Village Put Its Dark Past To Rest

Another 100 kms from Siliguri, in a small village called Amarkhana, 33-year-old Geetika Roy has almost completed the construction of her Silai School.

Along with stitching garments, Geetika also picked up other insights during her training and is now cleverly recycling plastic bags to generate additional income. Talking about her success, she said,

People throw away the empty rice sacks or they burn these, I buy it for Rs 2 and make a bag from it. I sell the small bag for Rs 10 and the bigger one for Rs 20. After my training from USHA, I earn a lot more compared to what I was earning earlier. I want to keep learning and hope to earn even more in the future. I want to start more schools and make more profits. I have so many dreams!

With the new Silai Schools launching in the state, 3,500 rural women like Pauli, Geetika and Sampa are becoming active contributors and drivers of the local economy. One step at a time!

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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 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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