Our journey began in the year 2003. Two years earlier. Mrs. Chinni Swamy had moved into the Purkal village. The deplorable conditions of the women of this area impelled her to start, a livelihood programme for them. She earning decent wages their status in the family and the community automatically improved. Since the only skill the women had at that time was cooking, a project was started for the production of namkeens and snacks. Though initially it was a great success, for various reasons the project failed. Undaunted, she started exploring alternate avenues to help the women. In the absence of an ethnic craft using which the women could earn, she decided to skill them with the crafts of patchwork, applique and quilting. It is thus that training and skill enhancement became an integral part of this project. At its inception Stree Shakti was a division of the Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS) and was ably managed by its directors. They helped nurture this division, providing working capital, equipment and infrastructure. Our products were first exhibited in Gurgaon in 2007. This exposure helped Stree Shakti comprehend the market and expand its product range. Quilts, Baby quilts, Cushion Covers, Bags and Pouches were designed and added to its product range. The women were also trained to make these new products. Initially, the project functioned from the residence of Mrs. Swamy. In 2008, PYDS helped it move into a new building in their campus. This building was possible mostly because of the generous donation of Late Shri Manoj Swami. In November 2010, Stree Shakti assumed a new identity when it was spun off from PYDS as a separate Society. Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti (PSSS) as it is now called, continues to work form the PYDS campus in a comfortable, hygienic and airy building owned by the. In 2013, a new outreach centre was started in Gangol Panditwari. In 2015, yet another was inaugurated in village Jharipani. The number of beneficiaries has presently grown to 178. They have organized themselves into 10 self-help groups (SHGs)). All these SHGs are independent economic entities working under the umbrella of PASSS. They benefit from joint purchases, design development, organization management and marketing initiative of PSSS. Training goes on in the various aspects of their business. Apart from the craft skills, the society helps the women acquire skills in retailing, designing, marketing and entrepreneurship with the intention of making the women independent business managers in the future.
As the name Stree Shakti suggests, the women possess immense energy and power, these lie suppressed in most of them. When a women realizes her potential, she is able to achieve great strength and consequently becomes capable of bringing about social change without compromising culture and traditional values. She becomes a respected and responsible member of her family and community. She helps with the educational needs of her children and helps improve nutritional and health standards of the family. As an equal partner in the running of the family, she confidently addresses social evils such as female foeticide, unplanned population growth and environmental pollution and leads her community into a better life. Better governance of the community also follows.
This society aims to help the village women realize and manifest their full potential, thus helping them blossom. The woman needs to emerge as the pivot of her household and a leader in her community. With her well earned income she attains economic independence. She needs to be skilled in the various aspects of managing her enterprise. She is no more a suppressed and subordinate individual. She is empowered and evolves into being a complete personality capable of becoming a leader and an agent of social change.
It is the fundamental belief of the Society that in terms of the contribution to the family in particular and the economy in general, women are equal partners. To play this role, the woman needs to be empowered with the acquisition of a skill that can enable her to earn a respectable wage, family revolves around the woman, it is critical that she is provided with a very supportive working environment where she will be happy, enjoy the support of friends and receive a fair wage. Fair Trade practices need to be always followed. Apart from finding joy and fulfilment in her work, her working hours must provide the flexibility necessary to help her discharge her role as a caretaker of the family, mother, wife and a responsible member of the community. The culture takes care of not only the aged in the family, but also of the animals and household. The working environment should therefore accept these cultural norms in designing the work opportunity for her. The discipline of creating and fashioning a product that would answer the rigorous demands of the customer needs to be understood. This is the basis of the entire effort and products will not be saleable unless the worker takes pride in the exquisite quality of her workmanship.it is the evolution of the craft and its contemporary character that can maintain the interest of the market and therefore constant innovation needs to be cultivated. She need to realize that she cannot merely receive charity but needs to do the work in order to earn it. To become successful in her enterprise, the woman needs to become skidded in the various aspects of her craft, she also needs to be proficient in production, purchase planning, marketing and customer care. Handling of electronic media and accounting are the other essential skills. The society will eventually want to remove all of the props of organizational, management and marketing inputs that are presently provided to the SHGs. These groups should in course of time, able and among themselves. The society would like to assist this process of development to the extent necessary. The skilling that is thus being attempted, is related both to the craft practiced and the arts of managing the enterprise.
Even as we started this project, the very first hurdle we had to cross was Lack of any creative skills in the women. There was no ethnic craft to work on. There was need to earn and keenness to learn. As each woman brought home a sewing machine along with her dowry, we decided to teach them a craft using the machine. Patch work and quilting were chosen as their craft. As no one had ever done patchwork or quilting, I had to train them at every level so that the final product will come out beautiful and eminently saleable. Now, women from the ranks have emerged as trainer’s skilling other women. The skill the women had acquired helps them earn a decent income empowering them to become confident individuals. This confidence has become the hall mark of our women at Stree Shakti. April 2014 witnessed the culmination of our effort to 20 of our members in spoken English when these women staged English play at the valedictory faction of this programme. The confidence with which they delivered their dialogues in a totally foreign Language made us wonder about the depth of their talent and potential. It also indicated how much more we can do to help them become complete individuals. Shri Pramod Athalye, an acclaimed authority on training gave some of other senior members a course on how to train other women in making new products. This systematic method of training is called training within industry (TWI) much practiced in Japan. This gave us a new inside into training for up gradation of existing skills. A manual of training new comers was completed and implementation began with all the new trainees. With the help of The Hans Foundation a new women’s centre was started in Jharipani village. Being a Hill Station at a distance of about 20 KM from Purkal village, this new venture presented many challenges. Two new trainers, Poonam Mamgain and Sushma Negi took charge of this centre. Many other women joined the management – Nisha Thakur as design assistance, Ankita Joshi as Store assistance, Sangeeta Bhardwaj as supervisor for the outreach centres and Suunita Tyagi as the garments supervisor. The induction of two new desingers, Aishwarya Enolla and Aastha Giri brought in fresh new ideas into our design development. A patch work back pack, Aprons, Runners, Playmats and table cloths were some of the new items added to our repertoire. Gitanjali Verma joined our marketing executive. Her efforts brought in many new contacts and much enthusiasm into our sales efforts. We participated in 33 exhibitions in 2014-15. We also started selling on well-known e-portals. New contacts were also developed in the export market yielding good results. At the end of the year our revenues stood at Rs. 84.2 Lakhs. We believe that comradely and friendship among the women go a long way to enhance their learning and make their lives complete. We planned for them a trip to kunjapuri in the mountains which they thoroughly enjoyed. Just like the previous year a sports day was organized to celebrate international women’s Day. Our campus reverberated with music and laughter. Our hope is that this will be reflected in the lives of our women as well. 2014-15 was a year in which Purkal Stree Shakti took great strides in the progress of our work and goals. We hope in the coming years, we will be able to maintain this momentum.
The names, occupation and designation of the present members of the Governing Body to whom the management of the society is entrusted, as required u/s 2 of the Societies Registration Act 1860, are as follows:
|NAME||Occupation||Nationaliy||Office Held in the Association||Board Meeting Attended|
|Mr.Aloke B.Lal||Retd.DG Police||Indian||Director||3|
|Mrs.Rakesh Dhawan||Entrepreneur & Social Worker||Indian||Director||1|
|Mrs.Reenu Paul||Social Worker||Indian||Director||2|
|Mrs.Madhu Shakti Gurung||Journalist||Indian||Director||1|
|Mr.Manoj Sharma||Social Worker||Indian||Director||3|
|Mr.G.K Swamy||Retired Economist||Indian||Secretary||4|