Celebrating Mother's In Fair Trade - Shanthi from Prowess, India
Mother's In Fair Trade - Shanthi from Prowess, India
Mother's day is a special day to celebrate Mothers around the world. Today Uplift Fair Trade celebrates Shanthi. A Mother, a leader and a womenpreneur who has fought odds in her society/community to empower women.
Shanthi Mani was a homemaker when she lost her husband and was left with an infant to care for alone. At the age of 22, her future looked bleak and uncertain without any proper education or skills. It was then she was approached by an NGO that was providing vocational training and skill development. Shanthi took up this opportunity and got busy building her skills which helped her deal with her grief and loss. She worked in the same organization for 12 years and learned all the basics of sewing techniques, handicrafts, and sales. Later in the year 2007, she founded PROWESS SHG (Program for Women’s Empowerment and Self Sustenance) an all women SHG/Organization with the help of a few colleagues. The Self Help Group consists of 16 members all-women group that have been working together from the first day one at prowess.
"As a single mother it's tough to have work and home balance in the society but, balancing both gives me a purpose to my life and to all the women who I work with. We wake up every day to go out and make something that will eventually make people or customers happy and henceforth it gives joy for us to work at prowess. We as a group, work and help each other and support even at a personal level, this has created a strong bond over the years as one family. Since the time I have started Prowess, every day has been a new day and filled with excitement “Can't find a better job than this”. Shanthi said!
Shanthi told us “I handle the operation of the group. Over a period of time, I have got some training in computers and Accounts. This helps us to keep the systems and work processes in place. In the present day, my expertise is helping people get information so they know how to access and get support from the Govt for COVID19 relief and stay informed about COVID-19. During the pandemic it’s been super intense but also rewarding, small businesses have been hit hard with indefinite lockdown for sure with disruption in the supply chain; we were left with no option but to succumb to this closure leaving our women jobless luckily, We found there was a high demand for masks in town and they were sold at exorbitant prices. So knowing this demand our woman was quick enough to adapt to the new program and design of mask making. By this time corona was spreading to neighboring villages and demand for masks kept increasing. We are lucky to find support from local Govt administration and NGOs that allowed us to work in these lockdown/difficult times. We are following the guidelines and social distancing norms where few of us come to the workshop while the others are working from home. Few NGOs and organizations came forward to help in the distribution of masks and we have already distributed over 3000 of 50000 masks so far.”
Prowess and the Fair Trade Principles.
Prowess was started mainly based on Fair Trade principles. The principles that are focused on are, supporting the women workers financially through trade (Gender equality), Fair Wages (Payment of a Fair Price), Supporting disadvantaged people ( Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers), providing a healthy work environment, (Ensuring good working conditions). We thrive to create a space for women with difficult financial and abusive family backgrounds and Women's Empowerment. We are providing constant support to our women in their capacity building (Providing capacity building). Last but not the least, we make sure we work mostly with natural fibre resources or products only, (Respect to Environment). So all principles of Fair Trade have not only helped us to ensure ethical & fair business but also made sure our workers have been treated well.
As a woman based group, it's important for us to protect them and these principles keep us on guard. Most of the women are abused by society or by their drunk husbands all the time. Henceforth they all feel independent, empowered, and enjoy working at Prowess. Shanthi said!
Shanthi’s favorite Fair Trade product is Bunny House. She explained, A family of bunnies made and put together with sustainable and natural organic cotton material. Educating children about the environment and respecting them is the future of this world. Shanthi said.
It’s a dream job because I’m working with people who are passionate about the communities, I care about the most. Anytime, someone is asking me for the manager or the owner of Prowess? I tell them that all women working in Prowess are the managers and owners. We only share responsibility. Says Shanthi with Pride!
Anna, founder of Uplift Fair Trade says whenever she met Shanthi her love and care for her community shines out of her in the way she speaks and way she acts.
Anna with Shanthi last year
“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws" Barbara Kingsolver - they hold everything together
See more about Prowess here.
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