A few minutes ago, women were learning how to make jewelery at a training program jointly organized by Dweepsree and Jan Shikshan Sansthan.
Women are active in all parts of the Lakshadweep islands.
There are no religious restrictions that confine them behind the four walls of the houses and thanks to Dweepsree and some energetic officials of Jan Shikshan Sansthan they are now financially independent and contributing to reducing the burden of poverty in the islands.
Dweepsree was launched in the islands in 2017, taking inspiration from Kerala’s ‘Kudumbashree’, arguably the best-run women’s self-help scheme in the country with over 33 lakh active members.
They even thought of calling it Kudumbasree, but later changed it to Dweepsree as it is formed on the islands.
The concept and its empowering nature soon attracted the women of Lakshadweep.
“Until Dweepsree was formed, we stayed at home most of the time, taking care of our household chores and sometimes trying to earn something by making snacks for stores. We didn’t even know what a bank was and how we could serve independently my child’s needs at school,” Shaharumma, Dweepsree member and community resource person, told PTI.
“We never knew we had the right to be away from home and do things independently,” he said.
“Dweepsree has instilled a great sense of equality and independence among the women of Lakshadweep. We now have several units that are self-reliant through their own micro-enterprises,” said Roshida, president of the Agatti Dweepsree unit.
She said that now women are aware of their rights and have more confidence.
“Our idea through Dweepsree was to empower women and reduce poverty, if not alleviate it. We were first trained by Kudumbasree mentors in Kerala,” Roshida said.
Dweepsree units in the islands also have low interest rate microfinance services that help members during financial emergencies.
They are engaged in farming, jewelry making, food and its processing, crafts and many other micro-enterprises that provide a source of income for women on the islands.
“Initiatives like Jan Shikshan Sansthan also help us develop our skills,” Roshida said.
Jan Shikshan Sansthan is a central government project aimed at training rural youth, both men and women, in various trades.
“We conduct regular training programs for youth across the islands of Lakshadweep. When we coordinate with Dweepsree, it helps us reach out to women more easily and organize such sessions,” Resmi, director of Jan Shikshan Sansthan in Lakshadweep, told PTI.
We also have several units that help rural youth generate some income.
Dweepsree, in addition to helping women in general, has a special unit for people with different abilities.
“Our idea and effort is to bring differently-abled people closer to the mainstream and also give them the opportunity to experience something they have never experienced. Many of them are confined to their homes and we bring them out,” Selmath, vice president and leader said of the unit for people with different abilities in Agatti.
At Agatti, women are happy with the support they receive from men to pursue their interests and businesses.
No religious sermon stands in the way of allowing women to do whatever they want in these Islands.