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Tailor-made for a better life

2 MARCH 2018

A few months ago, Scania R&D in India ended up with an obsolete test bus. The Scania bus has now been equipped with sewing machines as a mobile training centre for poor rural women.

Tailoring is something, which women can start immediately right from their homes upon completion of the training programme. They can continue their traditional role as a homemaker and yet make an earning. Many women are prevented from attending training centres in neighbouring areas since they must care for their children and in some cases, are denied permission to attend classes by husbands and in-laws.

Scania and MAN Turbo & Diesel have jointly initiated the Aanya – possibilities unlimited – project. The bus travels to different villages in the morning and afternoon, parking by schools. In each village, 10 women have been invited to attend three-month training programmes, with three hours of training five days a week. Mothers can thereby leave and pick up their children at school before sewing classes. That the children are accompanied to school is, in turn, increasing school attendance.

Upon completing their studies, the women are offered micro financing to purchase sewing machines and can immediately start with piecemeal sewing for the garment industry. “We’ve also been in contact with local schools,” says CSR Manager Soumya Ningappa at Scania India. “When the new semester starts and school uniforms are needed, the schools will now have a local supplier base.”

“This project ensures greater self-reliance among women,” explains Ningappa. “Some are traumatised by domestic violence and wish to find a way out while others are gripped by generational poverty and seek a sustainable livelihood to break away from the spell of poverty. There is always the risk that their husbands will squander their earnings but in worst case it puts them in better position to choose independence.”

The first group of women are now attending the Aanya project training activities, which include not only basic and advanced tailoring skills but also pattern cutting, sewing machine maintenance, numeracy, health and hygiene, cooking and personality development. “This holistic approach will broaden their outlook and help empower them socially and economically.”