Women in the slum areas of Yangon are primarily the family care givers. They endure a hardship that is significantly greater than that of their children and spouses. Many women who stay home to keep house endure social isolation. They are the meal makers, the budget stretchers, the nurses, the cleaners, the peace keepers … the list is a long one.
Generally the men in the house are the wage earners and where the control of money lies, lies the control. Many men take on sporadic and seasonal work. Many men are alcoholics and will spend the whole family income without first feeding or clothing their family.
The education system has been broken for so many years, that fewer girls than boys have received an education worthy of finding them work. Many teenage girls and women are innumerate and illiterate, which means that even going to the market to buy food, when they have money, is an exhausting and complex task for them. Oftentimes they will be cheated because of their lack of knowledge. Budgeting is non-existent. Families fall from one day to another, spending what they earn, saving nothing and borrowing from loan sharks when there’s no food or a medical emergency. Did you know that childbirth costs money? It’s something we so often take for granted. Our rights to have children safely.
We started the sewing programmes pretty much as soon as we started our first community centre in the “Orange House”. It was evident that home made clothing here was still a necessity and a woman who could sew could either find work in a shop or start their own small home based business.
Teaching women to sew has created a launchpad for over 50% of those who come, to start their own business. They attend weekly peer groups to share life and ideas. Savings groups and small business training aims to give them the best start possible. Oftentimes, groups of women from the same training cycle, will come together to make a business co-operative, cementing the sense of community and enabling them to continue to care for their homes, children and extended family.
If you’d like to support these women as they learn a skill to increase their family income, feed their family and restore a balance of power in the family unit, you can email our founder here.