Hope for Dalit Women

Giving Hope to Dalit Women

$110 will put a women through our six month tailoring training program

$10,000 provides the equipment, sewing machines, materials and staff needed to start a tailoring centre and run it for two years.

Our Good Shepherd Tailoring Training Centers are an effective tool for empowering Dalit women. Dalit women are considered the "Dalits among the Dalits" because as women they not only face caste discrimination but also gender discrimination. Our training center provides Dalit women hope, dignity and a way to escape the extreme discrimination and exploitation.

Unskilled unemployment is extremely common across India, particularly among the Dalit women. These women, because of poverty and family pressures, have never had the opportunity to pursue an education nor a vocation. Through our training they will have the opportunity to gain vocational skills and economic independence.   

Project Updates

  • Dalit Freedom Network has just opened a new vocational training center for women in Uttar Pradesh. It is situated in a poor rural community where we have already established a Good Shepherd School. Most of this people in this region are daily labourers, barely earning enough to survive. The new center will give women and girls the opportunity to learn practical tailoring skills. The classes will be offered in the evening so that women can attend after working in the fields. 

    Vocational training is one of the best ways to lift women and girls out of poverty and restore their dignity. Vahida, a student at the new center, shared with our staff that she has been waiting for such an opportunity for a long time. Her parents could not afford to send her to school so attending the center is the first time she has ever been in a classroom. Her dream is to start a small shop in the village. 

    We are thankful for the generous partners who helped make this life changing center possible. 

  • Rajkumari is a recent graduate from one of our Tailoring Training Centers. She was a quick learner and excelled in the six month training program. She expressed to us how the tailoring training program has given her opportunities she never dreamed of: 

    "I never had an opportunity to go to school, I wanted to get some education but it just wasn't possible for me. But now I have training and my goal is to start my own tailoring shop and make a livelihood." 

    We are so grateful to all those who have given to the Hope for Dalit Women Initiative. You are changing lives. Thank you for standing with the Dalit women of India.  

  • Dalit women are marginalized by society because of their poverty, gender and low social status. 

    But there is hope. Dalit Freedom Network is empowering Dalit women through education, vocational training and economic development opportunities. Watch this video to learn more. 

  • November marked both endings and beginnings at the KTB Tailoring Centre. One group of students completed their six months of training and were honoured with certificates at a formal graduation ceremony. Simultaneously, a new group of women started their training. In order to ensure that all women in the KTB area are able to benefit from the training, the Centre relocated to an adjacent village; now an entirely new group of women is able to acquire practical skills to help lift their families out of poverty.

    11 women are enrolled in the current session of the six-month course. The women and their families are thrilled about this opportunity, particularly as it is so close to home. Like most women in KTB, these ladies are largely unskilled, illiterate, and struggling to provide for their families. In these circumstances, the chance to learn a marketable skill brings incredible hope to entire families. In the next six months these women will acquire not only knowledge, but also confidence. This is how transformation begins. 

  • DFN Champion and Lia Sophia Jewellery consultant Donna Yakubowski recently hosted a jewellery party in her home. Passionate about India's Dalit women, Donna donated the proceeds from the party to purchase two treadle sewing machine for DFN's tailoring initiative. These sewing machines will be used at the DFN training centres to give Dalit women a marketable skill so that they can provide for their families.

    Thank you Donna for your generous heart and thank you to all the women whose purchases contributed to the donation. It is inspiring to see Canadian women bringing hope to India’s Dalit women.

  • Susheela is 30 years old and lives with her husband and children. Her husband is a daily labor and his wage is not sufficient for their daily needs.  Since childhood, Susheela has been interested in tailoring but because of her financial situation, she has never been able to go study in tailoring. Through one of her friends, she came to know about our tailoring centre and joined the class. She completed her six month course and has already purchased a sewing machine. She started a tailoring business and stitches blouses, frocks and other clothing items. She is so thankful for her training that she teaches other women just as she learned.

  • Six treadle sewing machines have been delivered to the new BND tailoring centre. They received quite a welcome, as village women, dressed in their finest, gathered to celebrate.

  • Pushban, a young woman living near Amitpur village, was nearly at full-term in her pregnancy. She knew that if she was able to get to a hospital, she would be much more likely to have a healthy delivery for herself and her baby. Simply increasing the number of deliveries in a hospital dramatically decreases the rate of maternal and infant deaths in rural India. However, Pushban knew she had no way to get to a hospital.

    A member of the local DFN self-help group, Pushban meets routinely with a group of women who are learning to save money. She approached the group to request a loan; when her labour began, she was ready. She was able to hire an auto-rickshaw to drive her the 10km to the nearest hospital. Pushban gave birth to a healthy baby and was able to pay back her loan. Thanks to her membership in the self-help group, she had access to high-quality healthcare when she needed it.

  • Dalit women face inconceivable obstacles as they are subject to abuse both for their status as untouchables and because they are women. Dalit Freedom Network seeks freedom for these women through economic empowerment. We have 73 vocational training centres across India where women are given skills which equip them for permanent, dignified employment. We provide financial assistance to women to help them start their own small businesses, thereby lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. We also operate thousands of self-help groups, where women gather to collectively save money and learn about their rights.

    It is these women who will gather, by the hundreds and thousands, for International Women’s Day programs across India on March 8. Having encountered freedom, they join with their sisters to celebrate what once they cursed: being female. Self-help groups arrive in matching saris, unspeakably proud of their accomplishments. DFN Canada has this year provided funds for the largest gathering, in Tamil Nadu, which last year saw more than 3000 women. The program includes skits, speeches, presentation of loans, inauguration of new groups, and fellowship.

    In honour of International Women’s Day, we wish to recognize the incredible strength, beauty, and courage shown by Dalit women every day. They are our inspiration.

  • There are very few options for young women in UHL village. Many are illiterate, but even manual labour work is scarce. As most of their families are poor, these young girls are expected to earn money in order to save up for their wedding dowries, which are often exorbitantly priced. The UHL Tailoring Centre was started to help girls in exactly these circumstances. A dozen young women at a time spend six months learning basic tailoring and embroidery skills, skills that then allow them to earn a steady, respectable income. This employment lightens the load carried by entire families as they struggle to support their children. Learning to sew frees these young women from back-breaking labour or unendurable poverty. As the girls in the UHL program say laughingly, “We are learning tailoring – now we can do anything!”

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