We are this year’s IKEA IWitness team from Germany travelling through India in the state of Telangana. We think the stories of the Disha Project, supported by the IKEA Foundation, are great examples of empowering women:
The Disha Project taught Dandu how to produce and use an organic fertiliser called “vermi compost” and “jeeva amrutham”, which not only brought her a sustainable solution, but also an environmentally friendly way to grow tomatoes. The added benefit is, that she can quit using hazardous chemicals that are toxic for her health as well as for the soil. Jeeva amrutham is made with cow dung, cow urine, garlic and chillies. Dandu is using these innovative methods to change the way she manages her farms. She saves money and adds to her livelihood as well. She used to spend around 5,000 rupees (around 62.50 euros) on chemical pesticide for one crop season, compared to the 300-500 rupees (3.75 – 6.25 euros) she spends now.
A powerful example of gender equality is Surujuna. She is a weaver who was trained by the Disha Project to create new designs for sarees using CAD (computer aided design) software. The training and her very own designs have now enabled her to circumvent a middleman, taking more money home and putting her in a place where she is a woman to be reckoned with.
In a technology dominated world, soft skills are becoming increasingly important. The Retail Training Programme from the Disha Project provided both Shireen and Sameen, who are sisters, with the soft skills they need to perform their jobs as valuable IKEA Food co-workers in India’s first store in Hyderabad!