Even as apathy against women in Punjab continues to resurface with heinous incidents of foeticide being reported time and again,nearly 30 girls from Channa have proven to be a remarkable exception by achieving financial independence.
Overcoming the odds of limited education options,these girls stitch clothes,train other girls and generate a considerable income for themselves. Making the traditional Punjabi stitching style of phulkari their forte,they manage to make an impressive Rs 5,000 to 8,000 every month.
In 2007,the Kalpana Chawla Welfare Stitching Centre organised a small camp in our village and that inspired many girls and women to learn the art of stitching in a professional manner, says Gurpreet Kaur,a student undergoing training in one such camp.
Nearly fifteen girls,says Gurpreet,now hold camps in other parts of Punjab and train other girls in the traditional Punjabi stitching art.
Kirandeep Kaur,a matriculate who could not continue her studies due to financial constraints,says the stitching skills allow her to earn a handsome living despite not being highly educated.
I earn nearly Rs 7,000 a month and also hold training classes for girls in rural areas. Some shops now contact me for phulkari and purchase directly from me, she adds.
For Baljeet Kaur,an 18-year-old polio-stricken girl,stitching has changed her way of life.
I was small when I fell victim to polio and life seemed difficult ever since until I learnt stitching from Kirandeep Kaur. Now,I earn my livelihood easily and also keep myself busy throughout the day, says Baljeet.
For a majority of these women,their rise marks a golden chapter of triumph. I am illiterate and was earlier solely dependent on my husbands income. After attending one such camp a few months ago,I have started earning around Rs 1,000 per month, says one Hema Devi.
Jahlan resident Harbans Kaur Saini,who organises such camps in association with some NGOs,says their aim is to cover as many villages as possible and train girls to earn a livelihood.
Many girls have started saving money for their marriage and though they are poor and less educated,the stitching camps have helped them improve their financial condition, says Saini