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IRCS Efforts for Women Empowerment in Salt Lake Kolkata

Statistics reveal the sordid fact that woman around the world constitute 70 percent of the poorest, earns just 10 percent of the world's income. The efforts for women empowerment have to be made, the mission of gender equality has to be achieved, the economic independence of women and their self reliance has to be addressed. Indian Red Cross Society has realized the need and all this can be reflected in action at its Vocational Training Centre (VTC) at Salt Lake Warehouse, Kolkata, which is empowering 60 underprivileged women with tailoring, cutting and embroidery skills.

The Vocational Training Centre was established in 1989 with an objective of training the women of economically weaker section so that they could get employment and supplement their family income. Originally the Centre used to operate from the staff quarters but after the visit of Dr. S.P. Agarwal, Secretary General in May 2006 the programme was reviewed and a lot of improvements have been taken place especially the number of admissions have doubled.

The course has gained its popularity in the eastern zone of Kolkata especially in the villages like Mohish Bathan, Pollinite, Nayaputli, Thakurdari and Krishnapur. The three instructors at VTC are doing a great job. Their dedication is exemplary, true example of service above self and treat the trainees with complete compassion and humility. The vocational training is imparted according to the pre-designed syllabus approved by the technical division of the State Government. The pattern adopted, constitutes of theoretical classes as well as practical orientation, including the stages of practising sketching on the milton cloth, newspaper cutting, cloth cutting and lastly sewing. The Centre has a production house which gives employment to few of these underprivileged women. These stitched clothes are distributed as relief item when any disaster occurs.

IRCS Vocational Training Centre at Salt
Lake Kolkata Warehouse
Trainees practising the cutting on the newspaper.
A trainee practising the sketching on
the Milton cloth.
Pallavi, a trainee who aims to earn one
day after completing the course.
The trainees are in need of the vocational training as they live below the poverty line with bare means of livelihood. They are mostly in the age bracket of 15-35 years and only few of them are literate.
Each of them has their own agonizing story but they all aspire to support their family and for this they are prepared to overcome any kind of hardship be it a distance of walking for 5-8 kms or their personal predicament.

Rita Praminik, a trainee who is 24 years old, is a graduate. The family income is just Rs. 1000 therefore she opted to move out of the house to do the course and support the family members. She says that “I am so much inspired by the
Samples of dresses which are distributed as relief material during any disaster.
course that one day after the completion of it, I would open my own school in the village where women like me can learn and later earn their means of substenance.

Brihaspati Pramanik, a 15 years old trainee is illiterate. Her father is suffering from brain tumour and paralysis therefore she could not study. She has great hope from the course as she says that “I am doing it to support my family and I wish that my younger brother can study”.

The Vocational Training Centre has come forward to help a handicap too. Papia Mandal is 17 years old, deaf and dumb trainee and has studied till 5th standard. She lives with her family in Mohish bathan village and walks for half an hour daily to the VTC. She has great hope from the course, she wants to be independent and also help her parents. She is being imparted training through the written medium.

All these 60 women are hopeful that after the training they'll start earning one day. They share one common dream and that is to own a “sewing machine” in near future.

Papia Mundal, a handicap trainee at
VTC at Salt Lake, Kolkata.
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