Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti: Empowering Lives in a Himalayan Hamlet

In a rural village outside Dehradun known as Purkal, located in the foothills of the Himalayas, a society has dedicated their resources to enhancing the lives of the disadvantaged women of the Community by empowering them. Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti (PSSS) defines itself as ‘an organisation for empowering the women of Purkal’.

Many families in the area lack basic education and skills and suffer from various cultural and social problems which keep them locked in a continuous cycle of poverty. The goal of PSSS is to develop entrepreneurial skills in the women who are part of the program, so that they can manage a business and maximize their income.

As a first step the program aims to empower rural women by providing skill training and a work space to produce hand-made products for the home which they can sell. As the women work and earn they move closer to being entrepreneurs as leaders emerge among them who begin to take responsibility for the business.

The women specialize in patchwork and quilting, creating products such as quilts and other home décor products. They work from 10 Self Help Groups working under the guidance of the Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti.  The business belongs to the SHGs and the Samiti’s aim is to make the artisans successful entrepreneurs, capable of running their business by themselves. Ten of the women have already been inducted into middle management positions. More than 125 women currently work under the umbrella of the Stree Shakti brand. There is a crèche providing not merely custodial care but also preschool education to over 50 children belonging to these women.

Stree Shakti is also a member of the Fair Trade Forum India. The principles of fair wages, honest treatment of customers and concern for the environment are woven through the fabric of this movement.

The products created by these women are unique, with a great stress on design and quality. Three designers are constantly striving to create new designs and quality checks at every level to ensure this.

Through their work in Self-Help-Groups and the unique products that pass their deft hands, the rural women of Purkal are trying to reach out to the world.

– Information and Image Courtesy : http://www.purkalstreeshakti.org/

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