Women empowerment is critical to social change
In the marginalized sections of India, women are often thrust into earning daily wages to generate more household income. Since its inception, SCALE’s mission has been to bring more women into the mainstream. All our initiatives seek to provide equal opportunities to women, to build their self-confidence and to give them a life of dignity.
SCALE began its journey by designing initiatives for women that brought them out of their homes. In our early phase, we made 700 girls computer literate, enrolled 75 girls in English classes, taught tailoring to 500 women, provided health check-ups to thousands of women and treatment through reputed hospitals like Escorts Heart Institute and Shanti Mukand Hospital and through doctors from Apollo.
Today, due to these initiatives, hundreds of women are in government and other jobs or have their own small business set-up. Our mission got bigger when we realized how girls were outperforming boys. They had the talent to learn high-end technology and the sensitivity towards the environment. For instance, they knew why kerosene needed to be replaced with a greener alternative.
Alambana, SCALE’s self-help group
SCALE has set up an informal self-help group of women —Alambana Centre— in Maharajpur village, Rudrapur, Uttarakhand. Provided with advanced training, these women are stitching school uniforms, wedding dresses, ladies suits and embroidered purses, amongst other items. Not only has Alambana provided them with attractive economic benefits, it has also become the instrument for change in children’s education.
Alambana is being run by a group of 20 women who have received advance training from SCALE. This centre has been provided with stitching, embroidery, fashion maker and over-locking machines.
Alambana today is an income generation centre. Over the past one year, the members have been able to earn between Rs 6,000 and Rs 8,000 per month.
Besides, to meet the deficit of power in the rural areas, SCALE has solar lighted the Alambana Centre. Production is now efficient and uninterrupted.
Women entrepreneurs coming out of our tailoring centre
The setting up of a tailoring centre in 2003 at Bhimtal block in Nainital district, Uttarakhand, provided a big opportunity to women to master the art of tailoring. In a span of five years over 500 women came from far off places to enroll for SCALE’s tailoring courses. The learning was not limited to skills. The products made by them were sold in various fairs organized by SCALE, thereby generating income for these needy women.
Many of these trained women catered to the requirements of their village. For them, this became the means of a regular livelihood. We saw the mushrooming of small business outlets run by these women. Boutiques were set up in different parts of the district. A few became professional trainers. A group of women also started their own venture. This way, SCALE was able to draw women to the mainstream.
How computers changed the lives of rural women
During 2002-07, over 700 girls enrolled for SCALE’s computer literacy program in Bhimtal Block in Nainital District of Uttarakhand. These young rural girls had never seen computers. SCALE’s six month IT literacy course supported by Acer India, was the turning point in their lives. Irrespective of their cumbersome hilly walk of six to seven kms each day, they rarely missed a computer session.
The program changed their lives. From the desire of just having a certificate to better their chances of finding a good matrimonial alliance, they went for employment. Over 400 women took up jobs. They were able to get jobs in government offices, private institutions, hotels, tourism, co-operatives, some have turned entrepreneurs too.
Mahindra & Mahindra’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program
For the last two years, SCALE has been facilitating Mahindra’s CSR tailoring program in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand. With 200 rural women already trained and another 50 being trained, it has created a ripple amongst the rural folks in Rudrapur. The courses, being conducted by SCALE, have made women more confident, and given them the opportunity for greater economic prosperity.
Providing school uniforms to 40 Anganwadi Schools
Till March 31, 2017, SCALE had donated two sets of school uniforms, a pair of shoes and two pairs of socks to 40 Anganwadi schools in Rudrapur. These 2,000 uniforms were stitched by Alambana. SCALE plans to cover 75 such schools by 2017-18.
Empowerment through education
When SCALE was setting up the Computer and Science laboratories in the underprivileged schools, it took special care to ensure that these schools enrolled girl students in large numbers.
Since most teachers in such schools lacked knowledge and communication skills, our hands-on and educational visuals aids with Science models have really helped children learn better. As a result, a very high percentage of girls from these schools were doing extremely well in competitive examinations.
SCALE has covered 20 backward schools so far and over 3,000 school girls have benefitted through our computer and Science laboratories set up in schools.
Women and renewable energy
SCALE has involved women in its renewable energy program since its very inception in November 2011. SCALE has already trained 75 women in the assembly and repair of its solar products. In two of its exclusive solar training capacity building programs meant for women from the All-India Women’s Conference (AIWC), 40 needy women were trained in the assembly and repair of solar lanterns in 2013-14. This was meant to encourage them to make their own solar lights as a business enterprise.
50% women in manufacturing at UCRE
In 2014, when SCALE set up the country’s first renewable cooperative, UCRE, its mission was to ensure that at least 50% of its work force is women. Apart from giving women an equal opportunity in the society, their competence as well as their skill of doing soldering or populating mother boards was a big driving force behind this mission.
SCALE is proud to mention that women are heading the accounts and inventory sections besides being involved as technicians in manufacturing. Having passed high school, they are managing their work with efficiency and passion.