Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Providing income opportunities

Women have brought traditional crafts and skills, such as basket weaving, from their villages but their potential for income is limited: a basket that takes two months to weave sells for 250 rupees in local markets. By contrast, the typical wage for menial labour is 120 rupees per day.

DIR has created opportunity for women to increase the family income in two ways. It offers sewing classes, then allows women to borrow sewing machine to use at home. Many of the women use donated cloth to sew wine bags and simple purses, which DIR then sells in retail outlets or through friends and family. A second project is the production of small bags made from recycled newspaper, a potentially important source of income as the city of Chandigarh recently outlawed plastic bags in retail outlets.

A key aspect of these initiatives is that both allow women to work at home, rather than leaving the bustee every day to work in the city. This enables women to devote more time to their families and frees children to attend school or spend more time being children rather than being consumed by the responsbility of caring for younger siblings.
In addition, the work can be done by the least skilled women in the bustee (or even by children). The fact that both initiatives involve "piece-work" allows women to work as much or as little as they want. DIR's policy is to pay cash upon delivery.

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