Women Empowerment programs of AMMACHI Labs have improved the lives of hundreds of women and their families in various fields. Here are success stories of two exceptional women, a training facilitator and an entrepreneur, who have benefitted from these programs and also influenced several other women to come forward and participate. Sakriben, of Nani Borwai village, Gujarat who was part of a sanitation project and Sharmila S. who co-founded Amritha Fabrics, a group business with fellow graduates from the Fabric Painting course offered through AMMACHI Labs’ Women Empowerment Project in 2013.
Sakriben, Trainee and facilitator for building toilets (masonry)
AMMACHI Labs, a research lab of Amrita University, has been teaching women in villages across India to build their own toilets and become ambassadors for improved sanitation in their villages. Nani Borwai is a small village in Gujarat about two hours Northeast of Ahmedabad, where farming and daily-wage contract jobs are the only sources of income. With limited options, especially for women, some villagers came to the initial classes for toilet building offered by AMMACHI Labs looking for opportunities. At first cautious and skeptical, one woman, Sakriben, participated in the classes just to see if it was worthwhile. However, she soon realized that there was great potential in learning the skills of masonry for toilet building, and took to the training with enthusiasm. She not only enrolled in the class and mastered the different skills needed to build a toilet, she used her new expertise to build herself a kitchen, enlisting other women in her training group to help her. Inspired by her success and love of masonry she took up more training to become the facilitator at the AMMACHI Labs training center in her village.
Sakriben and hundreds of other women have realized that new opportunities are within reach through skill development and education. It’s a chain reaction. Her enthusiasm, intelligence, and new skills have motivated other women to take up skill training, and lead their village toward the goal of ending open defecation and creating a more healthy, clean society.
She has been a vibrant leader from the start, and enthusiastically took to the toilet building project hoping to use her new skills to find work as a mason. She is now the facilitator for the training in her village and is paving the way for other women to pursue education and a career outside the home.
To date, over hundreds of women have been trained in toilet building and 201 toilets were built by women through AMMACHI Labs’ WE: Sanitation Campaign. Recently, another UNDEF Funded project: Women Empowerment: Sanitation Through Democratic Participation (WE: CDSP) is underway. In line with the Government of India’s commitment to improving sanitation and rural development, as well as the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the project aims to empower at least 5,000 women in rural communities across India to champion sanitation and community development. These women will become leaders who transform their villages into healthier and more resilient communities that will be able to meet the increasing challenges facing rural India.
Sharmila S, Entrepreneur, Skill – design and make fabric products
AMMACHI Labs’ Women Empowerment Project in 2013 brought computerized vocational education and training and life skills to a local centre in Calicut. Sharmila started to design and make products like painted pillows, wall hangings, mural paintings, painted coconut shell ornaments and more. A few women in the village began a local cooperative called the Amritavarshini SHG. With some mentoring from some international designers, our products reached export quality and were exported to Europe through the Secret Pillow Project (UK) and the Made For Love Pillows (Italy). Recently, they fulfilled a big order at Amrita University for the RAHA 2016 robotics conference. They designed and handmade over 300 conference bags and soap pouches.
Since the course Sharmila and the Amrita Fabrics team have upgraded their painting skills and have become artisans of fabric painted mural temple art. Sharmila is also the president of her cooperative group.
This is what Sharmila has to say “Through this small business, my dreams and ambitions are coming true one by one. The skill training has created new opportunities and successes that have helped boost my confidence and interest to expand our business and engage other women. I am grateful to the Women Empowerment programs of AMMACHI Labs that have opened new doors for me and my colleagues.”