One thing I knew when I started at Shahi was that 70,000 of Shahi workers were female. One thing I did not know when I started at Shahi was that in the last 10 years the female labor force participation rate in India has actually decreased. These statistics are important because empowering women is one of the best ways to promote sustainable economic growth and Improve quality of life.
Women are the backbone of any society, but this is especially true in India. They upkeep the house, raise the family, and often hold jobs or run a small business to provide an extra income. This is often underappreciated work keeps society moving forward and despite the value of their work, women are often overlooked, overburdened, and mistreated. When you enter a Shahi factory the effects of malnutrition on the workers are visible. In India the women, but primarily the mother, are always the last to eat and will often take the hardest hit when food is scarce. Women also often also have little say in who they marry, their employment, and are not offered the same educational opportunities as men. Despite these facts all of the kindest, smatest, most capable people I have met in India are women. To list all of the incredible women I met by name would be impossible.
Although my appreciation may mean very little, I would like to appreciate and acknowledge all the smart hard working and incredible women in India. Your efforts may often go unrecognised, but the work you do everyday and sacrifices you make keeps society moving forward and benefit everyone. I appreciate your work.
Because of this for my projects I chose to work of The Sexual and Reproductive Health Project and The Menstrual Health Project. I feel as though it is a small way for me to show my appreciation for the work these women do everyday. Working on these projects has given me the opportunity to talk to so many women and hear their stories. One interview with a factory worked revealed that a woman’s mother in law threatened to remarry her after she asked to get an IUD. When we asked a group of older women why they think they got their period they shared that they were unsure, but thought it was because their bodies were dispelling “dirty blood”. In one of our surveys we found that 92% of the women we surveyed wanted to know more about why they get their period. Even when work feels frustrating, I am comforted by the hope that something I do here will help empower women to gain more control over their lives or make them just a little more comfortable because if anyone deserves it is these women.