How often does it happen that one gets the opportunity to visit and experience conversing with the women living in villages, interiors of rural areas and know their journey in becoming independant? Perhaps very rare! These are the women who have been educated by a team of strong associations who have uplifted them, motivated them, boosted their moral, gave them the confidence to earn their own living, trained them to make handmade imitation jewelry, made them independant and transform into a strong woman. I felt honored to be invited by the Gem And Jewelry Skill Council Of India (GJSCI) to meet these self-made women for which I travelled to Vikramgad (a small village, 115 kms from Mumbai in the interiors of Maharashtra, India) on the occasion of the birthday of the Tribal Minister, Vishnu ji Savra.
What Is Project Vanika?
On 6th March 2016, Project Vanika was initiated by Gem and Jewellery Skill Council Of India (GJSCI), Imitation Jewellery Manufacturers Association (IJMA) and Aasmant Foundation where they collectively took an initiative for training women who would be going through intensive artistic program which aims at promoting women entrepreneurship and encourage their heritage of making tribal jewelry.
In conversation with the Tribal Minister, Vishnu Ji Savra,
StylePrer (SP): How in your opinion has Project Vanika benefitted the women here?
Vishnu ji Savra: Project Vanika is a great initiative taken and implemented with the dedicated efforts of a strong team. It has helped the women here acquire employment close their homes and become independant. It has further given them the opportunity to educate their children the way they dreamt of it and has set a brighter future for them.
In conversation with Mrs Nisha Tai Savra, Founder Aasmant Foundation,
StylePrer (SP): What made you initiate project Vanika?
Mrs Nisha Tai Savra (MNTS): While travelling to Vikramgad, you would have noticed that there are no industries here. The area is surrounded by mountains. The only source of income for the people living here is farming, which can be done for 3-4 months in a year. They are unemployed for the other 8 months and have no other source of income. Hence they migrate to the close by towns or cities for odd jobs. They are unable to provide the desired education to their children. This was a big concern for us and we wanted to provide them with a stable job, a source of income that could make them earn through the year which would support their family without migrating.
SP: How did you convince the women here to start working?
MNTS: The women here have been working in the farms and would travel miles away to work on construction sites that could help them earn a living. Hence it wasn’t difficult to convince them for working. We rather worked on gaining their confidence to provide them a stable job in a secure environment that was close their home and would help them earn an income based on their creativity and the man hours they would put into delivering the finished product.
SP: How many villages are under Project Vanika and how many women are employed?
MNTS: As of now under Project Vanika more than 500 women are employed across 18 villages.
SP: How does this process work?
MNTS: In the current model of project Vanika, GJSCI is the project initiator and skill provider. Aasmant Foundation (NGO) helps with the human resource mobilisation and IJMA helps with providing the raw material for which the tribals process and assemble raw materials to make finished products. Once the design is taught by one of the skilled trainers from IJMA to our senior trainers, these senior trainers teach the women across different villages to make the product. These finished products are then given to the NGO for quality check and accounting. Aasmant Foundation gives the finished products to IJMA and on receiving their payment its distributed to the tribals.
SP: What kind of wages are paid to them?
MNTS: Designs that are simple to make have a lesser pay than designs that involve much more technical skills. Depending on the complexity of the work and their ability to deliver the finished product they are paid accordingly.
SP: Other than jewelry what products are made here?
MNTS: Other than jewelry they are skilled to make crowns for our deities, torans (decoration put at the main entrance of a house) and items that are used for fancy packaging.
SP: You have taken a fantastic initiative, is there any other way to help them?
MNTS: Women here need to be educated to take care of their health. We do make an initiative to educate them, however there are many families in the villages who need to understand the importance of maintaining a good health and hygiene. They need to be motivated to educate their children and send them to schools.
Why did I write this story?
Looking at all my posts written so far, one must be thinking why have I written this story? I feel honored, look upto and am in support and adore the initiative and courage taken by these women to educate themselves, earn a living and become independant. Personally I am pro #MakeInIndia an initiative taken by our Hon’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Jai Hind!
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