01 July 2012“It’s not about the money” – once said Jessy J.

Even though this is only a pop song, Jessy J definitely had a point: money by itself is less meaningful than the contentment that comes from knowing you worked to earn it.

So why not have the best of both worlds? Why not make the money while knowing that it is deserved due to our own hard work? Money turns out to be much more than a dollar sign when it can be a symbol for the return of dedication and commitment.

First of all, it gives us the sensation of inclusion: you feel you are, too, a part of the economic growth and development of your community. Second, managing your own money increases your capacity to understand yours and your community’s interest and priorities. Finally, it gives us the feeling of responsibility: you are not only a part; you are a very important and crucial agent of change in your reality. Therefore, you are more confident to have a greater voice in decision making and planning.

It is this sense of merit and empowerment that we wanted the women from Prashanthagiri to enjoy. For that purpose, we created our Tailoring Program: we have been providing them not only with the knowledge in tailoring but also with business skills and spoken English training. Even more, we gave them jobs so they could develop their working skills and receive a fair wage. We sell these women’s products in the US and the profit is invested into projects that benefit them and their community. However, the most important outcome is that we’ve succeeded in giving them dignity, in addition to the economic empowerment that comes with having a paying job.

Another way these women have benefited from our project is that they have developed connections with other female members of their community. While learning how to tailor or while working, they share their stories: some of them were daily laborers that now work closer to home, others have never had a job before and now are responsible for providing a regular source of income for their families. They grow together while learning about motivation and confidence. They have proved to each other, to the community and to themselves that they can manage to take care of the household, work on an activity they enjoy, while providing for their families.  They are positive examples for other women and girls.

In addition, they have proven that yes, women can contribute to alleviating poverty. Since women in Prashanthagiri are now more active participants of the economic life of the village, their potential in business and accounting skills is being developed. They have access to decision-making, credit and livelihoods. This way, they are involved in building a productive and sustainable community, where everybody is engaged and working towards a better quality of life.

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