Stitching a makeover in the lives of rural women in Jharkhand

Over 1,500 women in Godda district are engaged in stitching uniforms catering to 1,470 government schools under a project to train them with industrial sewing machines, writes Mukesh Ranjan
Representational image (Photo| EPS)
Representational image (Photo| EPS)

JHARKHAND:  Malti Kumari, a housewife from Maheshlitti village under Patthargama block in Godda, was like any other women in her village. The difference lay in her rejection of the poverty they were condemned to.

In the last two years, she has proved a point: she is trained enough to earn Rs 12,000-15000 every month. Malti is grateful to the Phulo Jhano Saksham Ajivika Sakhi Mandal (PJSASM) which helped her learn to stitch school uniforms. It changed her life making her self-reliant and skilled.

The initiative,  started by the district administration in early 2017, aims to train rural women with industrial sewing machines so that they could work at an assembly-line pace. Currently, more than 1,500 Self Help Group (SHG) women are engaged in stitching uniforms, catering to 1,470 government schools under nine blocks in Godda.

The PJSASM, in association with Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) under the State Rural Development Department, has been providing three-month training to the SHG women. After giving training, the women are free to choose any associated work such as cutting, stitching, buttoning, ironing or packaging of uniforms.

After joining hands with PJSASM, earnings of the SHG women have increased manifold. "Before I started this work, I hardly earned Rs 3,000-4,000 in a month, but now, I am earning around Rs 12,000-15,000. This is extra money which I earn after doing the daily household work and agricultural activities at home. As my income has increased, both my children now study in a private school at Pathargama," says Malti.

Malti stitches around 25 uniforms a day earning around Rs 500. The PJSASM secretary says more than 1,500 SHG women at three big production centres located at Pathargama, Sunderpahari and Siktia ITI are functional along with 13 small units scattered in different panchayats of Godda.

"SHG women are paid on the basis of the work every day. Some women who work at our centres while others work from home," says Shanta Davi. All machines are electric-powered and the stitching is done at the pace of an assembly line. "Each woman working with us has her bank accounts with ATM facility," says Shanta Devi.

All sewing centres have an online portal with a profile of each woman, she said. "Attendance is registered on this portal and the women are paid through it," she adds. 

JSLPS officials say they have fulfilled orders of more than 2 lakh sets of uniforms placed by the local district administration while a fresh order of 48,500 uniforms has been placed by the district administration of Simdega. "They have also completed an order for stitching 1.5 lakh face-masks successfully," says JSLPS District Programme Manager Sushil Kumar Das. 

The programme is a brainchild of the then Deputy Commissioner Kiran Kumari Pasi. "The programme was started by Adani Foundation at a very small scale, but looking at its potential, the then Deputy Commissioner Kiran Kumari Pasi expanded it to engage more than 1,500 SHG women belonging to 118 SHGs," says Das.

A matter of pride 

After joining hands with PJSASM, earnings of these women have increased manifold. Anjul Devi of Mahavir Nagar under Pathargama is working with a self-help group as an ironing assistant for 11 months and earns around Rs 12,000 a month. "I feel proud to see my children in a dress stitched and ironed by us," she says

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