Women Empowerment at Gramshree
Six women dressed in colorful Indian dress sat on each side of the rectangular room. The artificial breeze from fans hummed lightly while the sporadic rattling of the sewing machines stitched patches of vibrantly colored cotton and silk together. Meanwhile, two women printed patterns onto cloths to be later embroidered into beautiful garments. Recently Niswarth visited a fantastic organization called Gramshree. Gramshree is a clothing and textile company that tries to empower women. The company, which runs in partnership with the NGO Manav Sadhna, focuses on making employment for women accessible and flexible. The women work on their own schedule at home or in shop embroidering, stitching, and designing traditional Indian clothes, modern clothes, accessories, quilts, and other textile objects. When women can work from home they can take care of their children and do household chores all while earning money. This ensures that children will be able to go to school instead of having to drop out and help support their family financially. Having a source of income also allows women to have more power in the household.
Throughout the trip there have been many sources of gender inequality. Wages, driving, schooling, and social discrepancies in gender have all been present in both Mumbai and Ahmadabad. It is a major problem in the impoverished communities of India. Gramshree justly provides employment to about 1000 women in Ahmadabad. The women make their wages based on how many hours they work as well as how many pieces they are able to make. I thought that Gramshree provided an ideal opportunity for women to be employed while juggling their busy lives. We were told that the women who work with Gramshree have never been happier. It was inspiring to see women working for so little with such passion.
In today’s world much of the clothes and textile products that we use on a day-to-day basis are made in foreign countries in less than ideal working conditions. In India poor wages and terrible working conditions dominate the textile making market so it was delightful to see women working for fare wages in excellent conditions. It is very important to be conscious about what you buy and the affect that it has on the global community. Supporting companies like Gramshree provides customers with excellent products and the knowledge that their money is being used to help the economy in a responsible manner.
Gramshree also helps women to learn to be leaders. When we visited the Riverside school, there was a large focus on finding the leader within each child. They believed leadership was not a position but is described by how someone acts. I think that this mindset is really inspiring. The Riverside students knew that each student was a leader and respected each other by listening intently to all members of the community and offering mutual help to all. I believe that this idea of leadership is something that we can all work on in broader communities today. Every child, teenager, and adult deserves the chance to be the leader that they are capable of. Individual leadership teaches cooperation and empathy while improving the confidence of the individual.
With the mindset that there is a potential leader in each person women could further push for equality in India because in this model leadership is not determined by gender. With perseverance, women’s rights in the home, workplace, and society can be vastly improved in communities in India. It was inspiring to see the women at Gramshree working with such ardor and love while being affected by so many sources of injustice and pain in their lives. I believe that going forward it is important for the global consumer to understand their individual effect on the global community. I will certainly be trying to do so.