According to the National Center for Disability Statistics, women with disabilities are less likely than men with disabilities to complete high school, college, or graduate school. They face attitudinal and cultural barriers and discrimination, making it harder for them to succeed. In workplaces, they are often overlooked when it comes to hiring and promotion. Some employers also fail to provide reasonable accommodations that would allow them to thrive in the workplace.
A group of 50 women from rural Bengaluru is blazing a bold new path for entrepreneurs, proving that there is no reason why they should not be provided with equal opportunities. Samarthya, a garment production unit facilitated by CBM India Trust and supported by ANZ, is run by women with and without disabilities. Grameena Abyudaya Seva Samsthe, CBM’s community partner, manages Samarthya in Doddaballapura.
These women survived domestic violence and are now taking a stand to help each other. They have come together to focus on locally-driven, high-impact solutions to help build and sustain resilient communities. CBM and ANZ brought together women in rural communities to collaborate on transformative solutions to strengthen them in domestic, social, and economic shock situations.
Sixty women with and without disabilities attended two modules on advanced tailoring in two batches in Doddaballapura Taluk, Karnataka. After the sessions, 50 women, including 22 women with disabilities, formed Samarthya. Soon, the team initiated talks with the secretary of the Rural Industrial Association, Doddaballapura, to facilitate market linkages on potential tie-ups. The RIA connected Samarthya with Bombay Dyeing and Raymond’s manufacturing unit. The team has also entered discussions with Myntra Online. In future, the unit hopes to supply finished products made for children and women for sale.
Even as the entrepreneurial ecosystem is buzzing with creative and exciting initiatives for the mainstream, these women entrepreneurs are creating awareness in their communities about inclusive and sustainable business practices, particularly for disadvantaged groups. All the employees are trained in disability inclusion, ensuring an inclusive workplace environment. They are empowered to have better decision-making skills regarding their families and the community. Working in groups enables women to share their problems and challenges and be better equipped to face them. A person can expect to earn a monthly income of about Rs. 22,000 from working at this garment unit. Experts from local textile businesses have visited the unit and suggested upgrades, including advanced tailoring machines, equipment, and instruments.
The market linkages and interventions in livelihood aspects among the members ensure financial and social sustainability. Now, as a mobilised group, there is scope for involving Samarthya in general health promotion and disability inclusion. The community is now aware of the possibilities and resources they can access.
In 2022-23, CBM hopes to replicate this project in three panchayats of Anekal Taluk in Karnataka.