The Kalyani Devi Nagar Gram Vikas Samiti (KDN-GVS) was founded in 2005, by Mrs. Kiran Tiwari, who is the founder and the current chairperson. During her tenure at the Zilla Sehkari Bank (Regional Rural Bank) in Unnao, Kiran came across numerous women who were dependent on men in the family, or on the government’s welfare programs. These women often came to the bank looking for financial support and to enquire about the employment schemes for themselves. Kiran provided these women advice about starting their own micro businesses and about financial discipline. In 2005, KDN-GVS was formed and Kiran invested her personal funds to hire teacher to teach young women sewing and embroidery skills.
In 2012, after her retirement, KDN-GVS took a more formal shape and now hosts 3 groups of 20 women (total 60 women) who meet at our new facility every day to for 3 months at a time to learn various skills – sewing, stitching, embroidering. The groups we are enrolling each quarter are growing as we speak. We have also expanded into other programs – we provide women with basic beauty and cosmetology trainings, and cooking trainings. Our aim is to provide these vocational trainings so that women can go back into their social environments and find gainful employment.
Women who have graduated from our program continue sewing from their homes to generate an income for themselves. Others aspire to open their own beauty salons in future or cook healthier meals for their families. Unnao is a small town with limited employment opportunities for many, especially for women who often turn to homemaking due to cultural reasons and preferences, or due to absence of feasible employment opportunities. Keeping these practical limitations in mind, our programs aim to provide women with an opportunity to generate earnings even from their homes.
Our society is supported by volunteer endeavors and is a grassroots movement. We acknowledge that strengthening women’s economic and income generating capacity has overarching and generational impacts on their children’s health and education. If income is in hands of women compared to men, the amount of money spent on food away from home declines, and the per capita calorie and protein intake is higher, indicating an income effect much larger for women compared to men. We therefore see the value of investing in the financial future of women, by providing them a safe and supportive environment to foster new skills, and also provide them a platform to discuss their social and financial problems. We also provide women basic financial literacy training so that they understand the importance of disciplined savings towards a wholesome financial future.
Finally, we like to be called “The Sewing Project” because that’s where our journey began. We started with 3 sewing machines our mothers and grandmothers owned, a humble start to help women realize their future dreams.