Ethical Enterprises Initiative for Young Women
Panighatta Sewing Project and Sukna Jute Products
Providing alternative means of generating income is vital in the tea estates of Darjeeling. These projects offer an escape from exploitative tea plucking labour and assist in combating human trafficking. Up to 40% of families in many tea estates live below the poverty line. For young girls, there are limited economic opportunities beyond a career as a ‘tea plucker’, earning AU$1.50 per day for removing 23kg of tea leaves.
Panighatta Sewing Project and the Sukna Jute Products was established by the Darjeeling Mary Ward Social Centre to allow young people to earn an income, learn new skills and stay in school.
The project trains adolescent girls to sew various clothes and learn jute-weaving for the production of bags, purses, table mats, coasters and key-chains. These lessons enable them to meet and socialise, build community and learn about laws relating to their rights, employment, health, government benefits and protection.
- Provide vocational training skills, experience and income to the youth living in the Panighatta and Sukna Tea Garden estates.
- Provide business management training, income generation opportunities and career guidance for female teenagers.
- To become a sustainable and viable business.
2018 Project achievements
- Girls in the Panighatta Sewing Project were employed to make school uniforms.
- Various awareness programs – child rights, trafficking, domestic violence and sexual harassment.
- Girls have increased confidence and then gone on to enhance their education via completing secondary education exams, computer, guitar and archery classes.
- 10 girls are completing tertiary education.
This project is successfully creating employment opportunities, providing a source of income and empowering young women to lead independent lives. The girls prevent one another being trapped into trafficking by the lure of what appears to be a better job further away. They have encouraged each other to continue their education.
Collective Voices towards attaining Livelihood and Sustainable Development
Collective Voices is a program that helps empower the women of rural India to know, promote and enact their rights in four key areas: Education, Protection, Health and Nutrition. It is located in the disadvantaged and marginalised tea plantation communities of the Darjeeling region.
Collective Voices, co-funded by Loreto Family International, was launched in Panighatta, Darjeeling, on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2009. The goal of the project was to create a model “Woman-Youth-Child Friendly Community” whereby women, youth and children are helped to participate in the planning process in their community and have access to vital needs.
It is common for children to receive a low standard of education, if any at all, and most adults do not understand their fundamental rights. The community has had limited access to government benefits and services and there is a lack of awareness on issues of human trafficking, domestic violence and child abuse.
Women make up 50% of the workers and cultural values continue to disadvantage women in every aspect of their lives.
- Empower communities living in the tea plantations in Darjeeling to know, promote and enact their rights in four key areas: Education, Protection, Health and Nutrition.
- Link the community and self-help groups with services and facilities provided by the Government e.g. legal aid.
- Undertake systems advocacy to protect the rights of women and children.
- Reduce child mortality rates, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.
- Promote gender equality.
2018 Project achievements
The community has been empowered to understand their universal rights and government entitlements available, to help lift them out of poverty.
- Income generating micro loans for chickens were distributed.
- Important various identity cards were issued to over 100 people enabling their right to access various goods and These include health, ration, caste and general identity cards.
- Eleven children were readmitted to formal schooling.
- Four rescue and rehabilitation cases involving domestic violence and alcohol addiction were resolved.
- 99 houses successfully applied to have toilet facilities built.
Of significant importance are the women who have been empowered to form 27 ‘Self Help Groups’ across the region which has resulted in many gaining financial independence through micro-credit schemes. They also organise awareness raising programs covering education, protection, health and nutrition.
Brickfield Schools Project
Throughout India there are thousands of brickfields – open air factories where clay bricks are made by hand. Most of the workers are migrants, including children, who spend up to 8 months of the year in these dusty fields in temperatures that can reach 40 degrees. Children come with their families to the brickfields and most work from 11 years of age or below. There is no education within the brickfields except in the schools run by Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre (KMWSC) and in a few places by other NGOs.
Since 2008, KMWSC has facilitated open air schools for 3-hours a day for the migrant children living in brickfields on the outskirts of Kolkata. Each brickfield has 2 teachers with around 50 children. There are currently 15 schools in operation and 778 children enrolled. Health programs are also provided where free check-ups are offered and medication administered to all children and adult workers who seek treatment.
- Provide literacy and numeracy education and basic life skills to the children of the brickfields who cannot be enrolled in local schools.
- To empower children to overcome adversity in their family and community ensuring physical safety, prevention of child trafficking, life expectancy and good future choices.
- Provide basic healthcare to the children and families of the brickfields.
- Educate children and their families about child rights, potential risk of child trafficking, early marriage and child labour consequences.
2018 Project achievements
Currently the Brickfield School Project is entirely dependent on foreign funding. This project requires donors to pledge funds for certain brickfield schools and ideally for five years. KMWSC hopes to supplement this by accessing and raising funds locally in India.
- With generous support from donors MWIA has helped provide teacher salaries and supplies, such as notebooks and pencils.
- School enrolments increased from 509 children in 2018 to 778 currently.
- Nutritious food was provided to all students who stay and complete the day.
- 651 migrant labourers received health consultations and free medicine.
Join us today in helping children to reach their potential and unlock poverty.
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