There is so much talk everywhere around the world about women’s empowerment. What most folks don’t realise is that the women’s liberation movement which took two centuries in the West is swiftly underway in a mere two decades in India. This has, of course, left a generation of Indian men confounded and while most celebrate the positive change and are in favour of equality of the sexes, there remains much to be done to sensitise both men and women to the rapidly changing dynamics in the workplace.
Where we, at Sihasn, operate out of, in Bhiwandi, until recent months, there was no woman in sight. Warehouse managers, logistics operators, furniture makers, labourers, security guards were all men across the board – this had been the status quo for several decades.
As we, at Sihasn, moved in, we brought on board women workers. This has led to women security guards being hired. Women can be managers, designers, workers, and guards. It was not conceived of before, but we’ve proved it is possible. The change is gradual, but positive and beautiful.
Here are just a few of the incredible developments that have taken place since the entry of the Ladies of Sihasn:
1. Healthy Relationship Between the Sexes
Women’s empowerment and liberation is not beneficial only to women – it is of superlative importance for men as well. Giving men the opportunity to engage with women professionally and to regard them not merely as hapless, fragile persons with no agency, but as fully functional human beings who can live with independence and dignity, is advantageous for men as well. In the 21st century, every man, woman, and child wants to be assured that the women in their families, their female friends, and their female co-workers can lead safe, independent lives. Until Sihasn, tailoring and furniture upholstery were seen as entirely men’s jobs – but now we know that’s not true at all.
2. Livelihood Means and Daring to Dream
For some of our girls, Sihasn is their first employer. Which means, they have, in their 40s or 50s, received their first paycheque. Financial independence is not the only thing that a woman gains from a paycheque, but more importantly, she can dare to dream; she doesn’t have to be a housewife forever. One of our girls has realized that even though she doesn’t have a college degree, she can do a fashion designing course. She has registered herself for one now, and she is studying while working. A paycheque is more than cash in a bank account – it is pride, it is dignity, it is confidence, and it is the chance to entertain your dreams.
3. Creative Expression
Enough psychology studies now prove that the creative and performing arts are therapeutic and healing. When people engage in art and design, they have a chance to focus their attention and channel their energies into creating something that can prove cathartic. Creative expression also builds confidence. The girls of Sihasn have found a way to tap and unleash their creative energies – which they did not know they had until now – through their work at Sihasn. They are detail-oriented and love draping the weaves of India over furniture. In fact, our girls often bring their own sarees to work with which to practice! They have shown us that there is an artist and creator in each and every one of us.