The old Chinese proverb of teaching a man to fish to feed him for a lifetime has never held more water than it does today. All over India, NGOs and citizen initiatives are striving to make the disadvantaged ready for the workplace. We look at a few that equip women to be part of the work force:
Cheshire Disability Trust, Bengaluru
The Cheshire Disability Trust (CDT) teaches women with disabilities skills they can use to earn a living. Candidates are assessed on their impairment levels and then trained in quilting, tailoring and creation of handicrafts, as well as in the sales, marketing and accounting of these products.
Founded in 2011, Bengaluru-based CDT has a vocation training centre in Tumkur, apart from branches in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Mumbai.They work with women in the age group of 19-35, especially those with disabilities.
“Empowering women with disabilities through guidance, support and informed choice is essential in enabling them to overcome hindrances. It is important for us as enablers to shift from the paradigm of charity and empathy to a rights-based approach to support women with disability,” says Anuradha Patil, manager, CDT.
Over the years, the team at CDT realised that it was not only women with disabilities who had a tough time of it, but their able-bodied peers as well. “Much needed work-based skills, such as computer training, communication, aptitude and the like, provided them with a basic means of livelihood to lead a dignified life.
The team at CDT trains women in bag, jewellery and dhoop making and most recently, mask making, apart from a basic course in tailoring. Entrepreneur development sessions are undertaken so the women can understand the best ways to plan, package and project their products.
For more details visit www.cheshiredisability.org
Job Booster India, Chennai
Based out of Chennai, Job Booster India (JBI) partners with corporate houses to place those from disadvantaged communities in salaried positions. Working across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra and Telangana, JBI equips candidates with skills required in the workplace.
According to Charles Emanuel, CEO of Job Booster India, “Our focus is on creating sustainable career opportunities for women and youth from rural or tribal areas, migrant worker groups and the like. This brings about a positive socio-economic impact in the community.
JBI also liaisons with other NGOs to provide trained personnel to organisations in the developmental sector. L. Devasagayam, the Program Head at JBI, sources candidates with a working knowledge of computers, accounting and office administration from the Centre for Women and Children Solidarity Network (CWcSN), Udavi-Smile Foundation and similar institutes.
From women being trained as mall employees and beauticians to being taught how to prepare a resume and the basics of accounting, the range of job opportunities are a boon for those who have completed their higher secondary schooling but lack a degree. In a job market where life is hard enough for those with certificates and experience, it is doubly challenging for those with neither.
“We implement vocational training for the unemployed and those from the unorganised labour community. This includes the basics of spoken English, accountancy, personality development and grooming — the soft skills they would require at the workplace,” says A. Johnson Kennedy, director of Udavi-Smile.
Women with family issues and victims of domestic violence are trained as cab drivers for IT companies and airports, says Josephine Joseph of CWcSN, which also ensures they benefit from counselling on the dignity of labour and gender rights. Pushpa P (43), is a beneficiary of the system. A trained nurse and DTP operator in Chennai, she has also been working as a licensed cab driver for the past five years. “During the lockdown when transportation was curbed, money was hard to come by, However, since I had admin skills I was placed as a DTP operator. I also work as a driver and the flexible nature of the job allows me to choose trips that suit my timings,” she says.
For more details visit www.jobboosterindia.com
Diya Innovations, Bengaluru
An offshoot of Diya Foundationwhich began in 1999, Diya Innovations, helmed by Suman John, looks at finding jobs for those who have picked up the skills and now need to apply them at the workplace.
Their multi-pronged strategy included working with the industry and creating awareness about what people with intellectual disability can do. “Sadly, most people are only aware of the disabilities, but not the abilities of these candidates,” says Suman John.
She adds how those with Down’s Syndrome are meticulous and sticklers for an order — a trait that has seen many get enrolled in the housekeeping department of corporate offices. “Taking them to offices is a slow but effectual demonstration of their abilities without going through a formal interview,” she adds.
While Diya primarily trains and employs those with intellectual disabilities, job opportunities do spill over to others in the community. “We outsource work to family members after providing them with skill development and training, creating income opportunities for them too.”
Apart from creating gift items for the festive season, Diya also creates daily use products that have a market all through the year. “Right now, the team is working on making reusable face scrubs from crocheted cotton fibre. All our products are the result of team effort and are broken into easy-to-follow steps,” she says, adding, “While not exclusively for women, a large portion of our workforce comprises women and those who do not have any intellectual disability oversee the efforts of those who need monitoring.”
All these institutions operate through word-of-mouth introductions, rapport with slum dwellers and volunteers who refer potential trainees. Post the pandemic, many of these institutes have begun training candidates in basic nursing and caregiving as well.
For more details visit www.diyainnovations.com