Top Places to Reconnect in the World 2012
Missy Crutchfield and Melissa Turner
Be Magazine | www.bemagazine.org
The Ripple Effect
“To call woman the weaker sex is a libel,” Gandhi said. “It is man’s injustice to woman… If by strength is meant moral power then woman is immeasurably man’s superior…. If non-violence is the law of our being the future is with women.”
Education and economic empowerment were key to Gandhi’s work uplifting the lower classes of India—starting with women. He knew women’s leadership impacts both their families and communities—creating a ripple effect of social change.
As we traveled throughout India, Arun and Tushar Gandhi shared several cottage industries and microbusinesses that carry on Gandhi’s vision today. From Marketplace/Share in the slums of Mumbai to SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) anchored in the countryside of Ahmedabad, women are gaining the skills they need to become self-reliant, able to take care of themselves and their children in a way they never have before.
“I still remember the day when my husband passed away and I was left with three children in a completely strange world.” shared Hira Bai, a member of Marketplace/Share. “It is very difficult for an illiterate, single woman to survive in this world but the only driving factor was my children. There was some strength in me that gave me the courage to fight.”
Hira Bai continued, “I came into [Marketplace/Share] and the doors to the outside world were opened. For the first time I tasted freedom. Today I have a house of my own and I am educating my children.”
The words “Dignity not Charity” are stitched on each scarf, Punjabi suit, purse, and other handcrafted Marketplace/Share products. NGOs like Marketplace/Share and SEWA are provide holistic advocacy and support for women on their path to self-reliance and sustainability. It’s not about offering a hand-out. It’s about lifting them up.
SEWA President Jyoti Macwan shared, “Gandhian philosophy advocates for economic freedom which comes from the leadership of women.” Continuing she said, “Collective strength is very important to us. SEWA provides a system of livelihood for workers through work security, income security, food security, and social security, which includes healthcare, childcare, housing, insurance, and a pension.”