Following decades of change and movements to empower women, the recent years have witnessed a definitive change in every sphere. Women have an independent outlook on various subjects and gained control over their decisions in education, career, and lifestyle. But rural India still remains a problem area.
This conundrum made Sahithi Divi go all the way to Mori, a smart village in East Godavari, AP.
Having founded Impact Scientist, a gender equality influencing platform in Hyderabad, the 28-year-old started her journey blogging about gender equality. “Soon after I started blogging, I realised that if there has to be a solution to gender equality, there has to be the empowerment of women first. So the mission of Impact Scientist became economic empowerment of women at the rural level,” explains Sahithi.
Sahithi and her husband Suren Thiparthi, an Orthopedic moved to Mori around two months ago. “I started doing intense research on the products created by women in East Godavari like istarakulu (leaf plates), mango jelly, handlooms, cashew industry, broom making, and so on. I chose to work with two local weavers for my pilot project and partnered with two tailors who will get handloom orders through me,” shares Sahithi. She chose to work with weavers as the profession is dying out and the economic suppression and exploitation in the field.
“There are more than 100 licensed women tailors here who don’t have work and more than 25,000 weavers. Not even one weaver is teaching their children how to weave. They don’t have the power to buy the raw material. They have to work within a very tight deadline for 16 hours a day for just marginal money.”
Sahithi plans to launch an Impact catalog of a few products made by these weavers and tailors. “I’m working on how I can use the fabric from these female weavers and how I can design market-ready products using these tailors. Presently, I will be sharing 25% of the profit with these weavers and tailors. So, according to the number of orders we get, we can bring in more weavers and tailors in the network.” she adds.
However, after several hardships faced by these weavers and tailors through the years, it was naturally tough for them to trust Sahithi. “I saw these corporate trained ladies were not allowed to get out of their houses as they had to take care of household chores simultaneously. I had to give them material and explain the product which they made with the USHA machines at their homes,” shares Sahithi who also had to shift to the village to monitor and bring a permanent change in their lives. She and her husband plan to educate the rural women about their health and open a rural orthopedic clinic in the village.
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