This year the rural areas of Pune received scanty rains. The villagers of Amboli are not so hopeful of getting good earnings from their farm produce. They are stressed! But things are bit different at the house of Renu Kumari, a 32-year woman. She has saved enough from her income and is now supporting the whole family financially. But things were not easy for her 2 years back. In the family of 7, the only earning member was her husband. As she was illiterate, she was only constrained to household chores. Through all the tough times and dry months, Renu and her family had to make many compromises. Education for their three children was one of them
Things started to change around 3 years back when her village enrolled on the Jeewan Jyoti Women Empowerment programme. The Jeewan Jyoti team, a group of 3 young women and a project coordinator from Almora, set up an institute for providing vocational training and skills to the women. The start was slow, but gradually women from nearly 20 neighbouring villages came forward. Renu was one of them. The institute provided many practical and vocational training to women so that they could make a living out of that. Renu enrolled for stitching and tailoring and now she is earning well by selling stitched clothes to nearby villages and towns.
She can now pay school fees for her children, take care of all the daily requirements of the family, from groceries to medicines etc. and even support her husband financially. This has changed Renu’s life entirely and given her much more power .
A social change we call Jeewan Jyoti
Unlike Renu, there are many women in rural India who are still financially dependent on their husbands. These women are ambitious, keen to become financially independent and support their families for a better living. There is a need to bring a social change to uplift these women and empower them economically and socially through skilling, employment and entrepreneurship.
STL initiated the Jeewan Jyoti programme in Sep 2014 at Velhe, a village near Pune with 95 students from 20 villages. Through a holsistic approach reinforced through vocational education, self-help groups (SHGs), and a production house, the programme has been working continuously from more than 8 years to change the stature of rural women.
Through the SHGs, women are upskilled on various aspects like cooking, stitching, and agriculture. These skills help them make them marketable and earn for a living. The women are taught skills that they can utilise to increase their families’ income, become self-sufficient, and enhance their social status. Students from 118 villages in three talukas of Bhor, Velhe, and Haveli have participated in the programme, which offers courses in nursing care, MS Office and computer data entry, beauty parlour, tailoring and cutting, and fashion design. The Maharashtra State Board for Vocational Education has approved each of these programmes (MSBVE).
Pre-marriage counselling and prenatal care for pregnant women are provided in informal meetings. Jeewan Jyoti has experienced a continuous increase in community trust and support. The institute sees a rise in admissions and a decrease in dropouts each year.
These SHGs also provide them with micro-financing through banks. Further, the production house helps these women avail training and earning opportunities that prevents the need to travel to other towns and cities for work and income.
A change for the good
Through a holistic approach, which incorporates personality development, soft skills and interactions with city folk through mentoring sessions and excursions, these women are transformed into envoys of change. They are no longer just homemakers, but leaders and role models for the younger girls in their villages. Through their progress and ability to help their communities, they have even gone on to change the perception their elders have of working and independent women
More than 1000 women have benefited from Jeewan Jyoti Women Empowerment Institute’s courses, with 813 students completing them successfully and over 100 earning a living from the skills they learnt there. The company encourages excellence by offering internships and scholarships. The top five students in each of the MS Office and Data Entry courses are selected to intern at Sterlite Tech’s Pune headquarters. Scholarships are also awarded to the top performers in the fields of beauty culture and tailoring to assist them in starting their own enterprises.
Each of these women, trained from the institute is not just homemaker but front runner for other young girls. With their progress and ability, they have been able to help their communities, change age-old perspectives and are operating like an independent individual.