CHENNAI: Two years ago, Mayiladuthurai-based Durga was presented with a serendipitous opportunity to add colours to the walls of a community building in her village. But little did she know that the occasion would enable her to add colours to her life itself. “I joined the Nippon Paint’s nshakti initiative two years ago and was among the first batch of people to undergo training in wall-painting.
Today, I am proud to say that I have come a long way. I recently became the first female contractor from nshakti. After becoming a contractor, my income has nearly doubled and I can now support my family’s financial needs better. Becoming a wall painter has been an enriching experience for me. Not just that, I have been able to usher in new possibilities in the lives of other women as well,” beams the 38-year-old.
Sharmi, a former contractual employee from Ocheri, Vellore, who is now a wall painter tells us that she’s received a new lease of life, one where she can care for her family, work alongside inspiring women, learn and be independent.
Durga and Sharmi are among the 500-odd women from Tamil Nadu, who’ve benefitted from Nippon Paint’s nshakti training programme. The initiative, instituted over two years ago, aims to train rural women in professional wall painting. The objective, Mahesh Anand, president, Nippon Paint India (Decorative Division) shares, is to make rural women employable, provide them with a sustainable livelihood and make them financially independent.
“The trainees are mentored by experts from Nippon Paint’s PROceed training academy to qualify themselves to become professional wall painters. The training is conducted for 12 days, wherein the trainees undergo a holistic training and learn from a comprehensive curriculum to meet the industry demands,” he shares. On completion of the programme, the painters are awarded a certificate, qualifying them as professionals. “The goal is to not just provide them with training but to ensure they benefit out of it. So we extend our support by introducing them to our dealers, interior designers and architects, who can provide painting jobs for them,” he says.
Recently, as part of its nshakti initiative, Nippon Paint signed an MoU with the Rotary Club of Madras East (RCME). “RCME will be identifying, facilitating and mobilising people, while Nippon will focus on teaching the candidates soft skills and train them in the nuances of the job. In the next year, we aim to train 1,000 unskilled, underprivileged women from Chennai and equip them to become professional painters,” he says, adding that many who’ve trained under nshakti have gone on to become lead painters, contractors and even presidents of painting associations in their respective towns and districts.
With wall painting in construction sites and the paint contract industry still largely male-dominated, these groups of women from rural parts of the state are silently climbing atop ceilings and breaking gendered stereotypes.
“Though one might think of wall painting as a primarily male-dominated profession, women are known to have a keen sense of aesthetics, an eye for colour, and the patience that’s required for being an expert in the profession. Through nshakti, we want to level the playing field for women by providing the necessary training and tools,” he concludes.