Why Sewing Schools?
Empowering Dalit Women through Vocational Training
Imagine working a 12-hour day as a laborer in the fields while leaving your six-year-old child home alone to fend for himself. Consider what you would do if you were a poor, young widow in India with no skills, and needing to provide for yourself, were lured into the sex trade. What if you were an elderly widow, with no children to take care of you, so you had no option but to beg on the streets? These are real situations for Dalit women in India, who are the poorest of the poor. The need to help poor, unskilled women in India is great, and India Partners is meeting that need through our partner-run sewing schools.
Girls born into India’s lowest social class have three strikes against them. First, they are Dalits, or untouchables, born into the lowest rank of India’s social system. The types of jobs Dalits hold are the least desirable and worst paid in Indian society. Their society discourages Dalit women from leaving home to work.
Second, India’s wealth is primarily concentrated in the cities, and its poverty is spread out among rural areas. Opportunities for work in the villages are minimal, thus most unskilled workers, including women, have no choice but to do backbreaking work as a laborer in the fields for 12 hours a day, earning only 40 rupees a day, or about $1. That’s barely enough to feed a family for one day. When both husband and wife are working as day laborers, children are often left home alone. If an elderly widow is childless, there will be no one to care for her in her old age, and without a skill such as tailoring, she may end up as a beggar. A young widow may end up working the streets as a prostitute, as untold hundreds of thousands of girls and young women are sold into human slavery each year.
Third, according to India’s most recent census, fewer than half (48%) of India’s females 15 and older are literate, while 73% of males can read and write.
Amidst the obstacles for Dalit women, India Partners and two of our partner agencies in India are providing hope for women through sewing schools. At the India Abundant Ministries tailoring schools, the training schedule is six hours a day, six days a week, for six months, and not one woman has dropped out! After they complete the program and begin working, women often earn about 100 rupees a day, roughly $700 per year for a six-day workweek, or about 2-1/2 times what they could earn as field hands. Moreover, sewing enables a mother to care for her children while still being at home.
Although these sewing schools are making a huge difference in the lives of numerous women, many must be turned away every year due to lack of space and machines. To meet the demand for this training, India Abundant Ministries wants to open another school. You can help more women in India learn this valuable skill by donating funds for a sewing machine or tuition today!
If you would like to contribute to India Partners’ sewing school projects, click here and select “sewing machines" or "sewing school tuition" from the drop-down menu. Thank you!
2 months tuition = $30
6 months tuition = $90
1 sewing machine = $92