India (MNN) — Today is International Women’s Day which is set aside as a reminder that injustice and inequality are still rampant on a global scale. For women in India, for example, education is often out of reach.
Lower-income villages often can’t afford to have schools, let alone any that teach past the fifth grade. Even if girls could access better schools, they often cost money families don’t have, and the long and remote treks before and after school in the dark are more than most young girls or their families are willing to risk.
That means when the girls get older, they rely on husbands who can get better educations to support them. If they don’t marry or if their husbands die, they’re left to fend for themselves.
Enter India Partners, whose vision is an India rich with hope, justice, and compassion.
They have tailoring schools across India that each teach 12 women at a time how to sew basic clothes and start their own businesses. Upon graduating, they receive treadle-operated sewing machines that don’t need electricity, the training they need to set up their own businesses, and the sustainable means to support their families.
“They also can be at home so if they have young children, the children are not left unsupervised which often happens if a woman has to go work as a day laborer in the fields,” says Donna Glass of India Partners.
Take Nagamani. Like many others, she only received a minimal education, and her husband was the breadwinner for their little family. Nagamani was in her 20s when her husband died of tuberculosis, and her two children were 2 and 4. They moved in with her in-laws, both of whom were too old to work.
One of her friends mentioned the India Partners sewing class, and last November, she graduated from the program.
“Now she just feels that she can actually work for her family and provide for them, and she’s been doing that for the last six months,” Glass said.
India Partners moves on after training around 100 women per village so they don’t oversaturate the village with one trade. Often, those women work together, coming alongside one another in support groups or collaborating for bigger projects like providing uniforms for a school. These women are changing their own lives as well as their families and communities.
The problem is, there are always more women who need help. “There are many more like Nagamani who, because the training lasts for six months and there’s only room for 12 students at a time, there’s always a waiting list.”
If you want to help, it’s never too late. You can donate a sewing machine for $100 find other ways to get involved right here. In the meantime, don’t forget about women like Nagamani.
“We hear the stories of the misery that some of the women were in before the tailoring training. This gives them hope that life is going to get better.”