Meenambalpuram, a thickly populated community in Madurai city has a history of domestic violence on women owing to rise in alcohol addiction. Surrounded by a string of wine shops has only made the situation worse making even young adults prone to this addiction.

Providing those women vulnerable to domestic violence with livelihoods was the only motto for Mr. Meyyapan, a resident and social worker from the area to begin Thiruvalluvar Mandram. What began as a collective to celebrate festivals like Pongal and Diwali for women have now grown to a livelihood centre, where about eight women earn a steady income stitching cloth bags.

Presenting the second production unit – Thiruvalluvar stitching centre. Let’s get the women talking.

Dhanalakshmi, a mother of two kids found running household extremely difficult with the money her husband earned. “My husband is a mason and gets only meager income. And on days when he doesn’t get job it was very difficult to even get good food. I was searching for a job intensively since I wanted to admit my children in school.” Although she found some menial jobs, the work pressure and erratic timings gave little room to look after kids. “I was previously stitching shirts in a company. The long working hours made it difficult to balance work and personal life. Working here had eased that stress since the work and school timings match, giving ample time to return back to kids.”

Some women from our home tailoring network, like Chellamma, moved to the production unit thereby earning a steady wage. “I learnt tailoring at the Tulasi centre and had been stitching bags from home for 3 months. When Thiruvalluvar unit was setup I was more than happy to join the unit.” This mother of three has a reason to work which is nothing short of major women empowerment goals. “My husband was unreasonably chauvinistic and would keep telling me what to do and what not to do. I was always considered inferior and looked down upon. After a point I couldn’t tolerate it and walked out of my marriage. I wanted to earn enough money so that I can prove men and women are equals.” However, she admits that safety that the place offers is unparalleled and remains a major reason to work here.  “I have worked outside and has faced certain levels of harassment both sexual and mental at most places. I loved tailoring and  always wanted to work in an all women environment and hence joining here seem to be perfect idea. This workplace also gives me the freedom to work efficiently and gives flexibility to take care of kids.”

We hear these stories of struggle, hardwork and hope and this Women’s Day  we want the world to hear from them directly. Share this post widely!

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