As the pandemic continues to rage in the country, our economy has taken a massive hit, and many have been left without jobs and livelihoods. Unemployment rates are at an all-time high and the most affected are those from the rural areas, especially the women.
But a bigger problem comes to light when you go down this rabbit hole - skill development. It is the need of the hour according to this data from the India Skills Report 2019, which states that a high percentage of the Indian workforce is poorly-skilled. In fact, only 4.69 percent of India’s employed population qualifies as skilled workers.
Upskilling is of utmost importance for rural women who’ve lost their jobs or those who are unable to find one. Many social organisations have undertaken the task to train and prepare them for employment. Here are a few of them.
Founded by Aditi Diwan in 2015, Neev is an NGO based in Madhya Pradesh. It aims to help women from underprivileged families earn an income by becoming self-sufficient. They help upskill these women with art and sewing skills, which they can then use to sell bedsheets, sarees, bags, photo frames, and other home decor items. Neev also helps women enroll their children in school, thereby increasing the literacy rate in the villages.
Quantum Career Academy
What started as a small skill enhancement centre has today helped countless women prisoners and army widows start a new life. Quantum Career Academy (QCA) was started by Shipra Bhutani, an MBA teacher who realised that what her Economy students learned in the classroom wasn’t enough for getting a job in the real world. So, she started training them in industry-relevant skills like digital marketing, web designing, etc. And today, the QCA has over 40 centres across the country, imparting vocational, beautician, and cooking training to rural women.
Established in 1972, the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) began as a women’s trade union in Gujarat, under the guidance of Gandhian activist Ela Bhatt. SEWA’s skill development programmes have helped in making over 10,000 women self-reliant. They train women in marketing, hospitality, sales, housekeeping, computers, etc. SEWA Bharat came out in 1984 to address problems in geographical expansion, which has today resulted in SEWA centres across Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, West Bengal, and Kerala.
Apne Aap Women Worldwide
Founded by Ruchira Gupta, Apne Aap Women Worldwide (AAWW) is an organisation that helps victims of sex trafficking and their children in Delhi, Kolkata, and Bihar. AAWW creates a self-sustainable ecosystem for women by training them in making scarves, bags, jewellery, etc. It even links them to the government’s anti-poverty programme - giving them access to birth certificates, education, housing, and healthcare. Recently, AAWW also started 1MillionMeals, a ration distribution initiative that saved millions of marginalised families during the ongoing pandemic. It’s still going strong given the uncertainty that lies ahead.
(Edited by Athira Nair)