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Women in India often fall victim to violence and poverty, along with their children.

Age-old family conceptions and religious traditions still determine the roles of today’s men and women, especially in rural areas. As before, the husband decides all family matters. Unmarried women are not socially recognized.

A girls’ life is centred around her marriage, even before birth. Parents feel compelled to raise an extensive dowry and pay a big wedding for her, which often means running into heavy dept. To have more than one daughter is considered to be unfortunate. So girls are frequently unwanted, and the abortion rate for baby girls is alarming. The government has abolished sex determination, however this has not stopped female infanticide.

Girls from poor families receive little education. Traditionally, the bride moves into the houshold of her in-laws after marriage, whereas sons settle down at home and support their parents in old age. So parents tend to invest rather in their sons than in their daughters.

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Vocational training

Girls from poor families only gain more self-confidence and independence if they can acquire skills and have their own income. The vocational training centre has this goal.

Vocational Training Centre near Daryapur

The centre was started in September 2011 near the village of Daryapur in Punjab. At this centre, girls and women without age restriction receive training that enables them to build up their own small start-up or to gain extra money.

At present there are 20 girls trained by two teachers in the fields of tailoring and cosmetics, the latter playing an important role due to the Indian wedding traditions. The girls come from nearby villages, mainly by bicycle or on foot.

In the textile sector the training includes sewing, embroidery, decoration and fabric painting. The training as a beautician includes facial massage and treatments, mehndi (artistic henna painting), waxing, manicures, foot reflexology and makeup. The seamstress and embroidery training takes one year. The beautician course takes six months.

Both courses are free of cost. The training materials such as yarn, fabrics and colours are also provided. The current facility can easily be extended. There are plans to include ‘home science’ and other subjects. The monthly operating costs amount to around € 200.

Support for wedding

Girls from poor families can be helped considerably by supporting their parents for the dowry and the organization of the wedding. Accordingly, we help in individual cases in collaboration with local organizations that are able to assess the problematic situation of those concerned. We cover the expenses of the wedding and the couples receive the usual equipment including furniture, tableware, clothes etc.

Women Empowerment Seminars

Moreover, it is necessary to change public awareness and strengthen the self-esteem of women. We, therefore, support seminars and courses on “Women Empowerment”. Models and the exchange of experience encourage women and show them their possibilities. Thus, women in leading positions are invited to proove that it is worthwhile to raise girls and promote them. Further topics of such seminars are e.g. sham marriages and dowry fraud. They also offer help in everyday matters such as the education and nutrition of children.

Encouraging other women

Activist Sangeeta Deol

At one of these seminars the farmer Sangeeta Deol held an impressive speech in which she talked about her life. She had polio in her childhood, so her foot was impaired, but she received a good education, nevertheless, thanks to her parents. After her wedding, she did not want to be a burden on her husband’s family. Under difficult circumstances, she began farming, even drove the tractor herself and bred mushrooms, which she sold in the market. When she returned at night, she washed her children’s school uniforms. In this way she established a successful small agricultural enterprise. Now, despite of her difficulties to walk, she gives lectures to women in order to encourage them to take their destiny in their own hands and also to give their daughters the chance to lead a more independent life.