Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mahila Shakti Silai Sangathan (Organization of Strong Women Who Sew)

Women's Empowerment Initiatives:

During the month of July 2013, ALFA has implemented the project Mahila Shakti Silai Sangathan (MSSS). A women's empowerment program, MSSS creates a micro-finance opportunity for 15 women participating in tailor-training classes to sell products in Udaipur. The combined benefits of education, capacity building, and micro-finance are used to mobilize women to gather and engage in a common space, sanjha manch. By creating a community around the teaching and learning of a valuable craft, MSSS seeks to help women build a sense of social as well as financial autonomy. The project is also designed to be sustainable by creating leaders within the group of women who can teach, organize meetings, as well as manage their growth in the future. It will leave the women with many opportunities to market and sell their products and services, as well as to meet collectively for this purpose on a regular basis. The women have all contributed a small fee to participate in the workshops, money with which they have bought a group sewing machine to be shared by all.

The classes began July 1st, 2013. The women started by cutting salwar kameez from newspaper, practicing over and over again until the cuts were straight and the measurements were accurate. In the second week, the women are taking turns practicing threading, pumping, and sewing seems with their new machine. They have shown extreme pride in their first garments! MSSS sees this batch of women as only the beginning. ALFA and the community of women in Karawada are determined to continue to teach and practice the art of tailoring, as well as the local embroidery practice called tanka.

As more women participate, the group will be able to acquire more sewing machines, facilitate regular workshops in an MSSS specific sanjha manch, and build up a sense of identity around a strong community of women who sew.

Intern coordinator: Matea Fish