Tailor My Joyful Dreams
Five years ago, three women opened a humble tailoring centre in Chinkipora near Sopore. Today, the Centre has become a training hub for girls, giving them wings to fly
I consider myself an empowered woman. I am educated, disciplined and I earn. I read a lot of books by popular feminists to learn more and more about the empowered women, those who need to be empowered, those who have been empowered and also those who empower other woman.
Reading the books provides me with enough data and I learn a lot. But the fact is that we get to see real empowerment in real life. On social media, you shall see different women taking social media by storm – young entrepreneurs, singers, dancers and the like. This too is empowerment, and most of these women are able to reach high because of the support system and monetary support of their families.
But what about the women who come from poor families – the ones who have no one to help them become empowered? If women of only the rich class of the community are progressing, can we really say that women are getting empowered? No. Real empowerment happens when women from the poor classes – especially those from Below Poverty Line – are enabled to earn a living for themselves and help their families.
The Will To Succeed
A village named Chinkipora near Sopore has a small stitching center called SS Tailoring Centre. The centre was opened by two women. One is Mrs. Syeda Bano, who is a widow and the mother of two. The other is Ms. Shaista. Syeda had no means of income, and could survive only on what her father gave her. Shaista also comes from a poor family. With some money, both of them decided to open a stitching centre.
The stitching centre is a small room in a small house. The corridors are so narrow that only one person can pass at a time. But the wonderful thing is that human endeavour is defined by will and not by money.
When Syeda and Shaista decided to get going, another woman from the area named Fozia invested some money, and they got some more machines for the centre. The room where they work has been taken on rent. The centre was set up by these women five years ago.
When I visited the stitching centre, there were least 12 women working there, all busy with their work. They were surprised to see me, and also excited that someone had come to talk to them. I could see that they were enjoying their work. Music was playing on a phone that they had kept on a table in the middle of the room.
Small Workplace, High On Energy
Even as they worked, the women were chatting about how hot the weather is today, and moving their heads in rhythm with the song. I was struck by the happy energy of the place.
Two young girls sat in front of Syeda. She was teaching them how to stitch clothes. So far, Syeda has taught at least 200 girls to stitch clothes. Most of them are now working at boutiques or from their homes, stitching clothes and earning to support themselves and their families.
Syeda has studied up to Class 12. Her talent with the sewing machine has made her able to support herself and also empower the girls who work with her. Those who are working there have either studied up to Class 10 or have not been to school, because their family could not afford an education for them.
So all these young women decided to learn a skill so that they are able to earn and support their families.
I Earn, I Grow
Adfer, one of the girls working at the centre, said that she is very thankful for this place. “Because of this centre, I am able to earn money and spend it the way I want,” she told me.
Bisma, a shy woman working at the centre, asked me why I want to write about them. A good question. I want to deliver a lecture on women empowerment at the grassroots. Hence my interaction with them. She was happy when I told her that they are all engaged in good work that is helping them grow and also provide growth opportunities for other women. I want to highlight this.
The girls excitedly told me that they have a page on Facebook, on which they post their creations and the designs. I was surprised to see that they have learned marketing techniques. I asked her how they did they come up with the idea. Syeda replied that some customer liked the dress they stitched for her so much so that she uploaded her photograph on social media. The same woman told them to set up a page on Facebook where people can see their creations, and they can get more work.
The young women were full of gratitude that they got the opportunity to learn the valuable skill of tailoring, which can help them find self-employment. Otherwise many of them would have to work as domestic workers, they said. They are happy that they can do tailoring from the comfort of their home, or work at boutiques.
There are so many young girls like these who are sitting at their homes. They have no opportunities to work, and nobody is there to support them or encourage them to work. It is creditable that this small center is able to create employment opportunities for these young women who are desperate to escape the life of poverty.
It is so heartwarming thing to see that women from poor families in a conservative society have been able to empower themselves. They have also encouraged so many women to do the same. To work, to earn, live a dignified life and have some independence. To me this is empowerment – that women from every nook and corner of Kashmir learn to earn their living and be responsible, happy citizens.
One of the girls working at the centre said that she is very thankful for this place. “Because of this centre, I am able to earn money and spend it the way I want,” she told me
The young women were full of gratitude that they got the opportunity to learn tailoring here, which can help them find self-employment. Otherwise many of them would have to work as domestic workers, they said
It is so heartwarming thing to see that women from poor families in a conservative society have been able to empower themselves. To me this is empowerment – that women from every nook and corner of Kashmir learn to earn their living and be responsible, happy citizens.