Women on Wings’ local program implementing partner Dharma Life trains rural women in selling products from a ‘social basket’. Currently 662 so called ‘Dharma Life Entrepreneurs’ (DLE’s) are trained to sell products like sanitary pads, soap and solar lanterns. Recently a Women on Wngs team worked with Dharma Life on the progress of the program and learned that it impacts more than just the DLE’s.
Persistence of female entrepreneur
Shefali Satyam is one of those DLE’s. She lives in a small village in Bihar and got married at the age of 14. Her husband wasn’t doing anything. Their financial condition was very bad. Shefali wanted to do something to support her family. In spite of the struggle to convince her family, Shefali took tailoring courses. With a sewing machine gifted by her father, she started her business of tailoring. Then Shefali came to know about the ‘Making periods normal’ program. She instantly knew that she had to become a DLE and she applied for the training. Shefali now sells sanitary pads and solar lights in her shop. She also conducts female hygiene sessions in schools. Her income makes a big difference to Shefali and her family. Moreover, being a DLE has given her an identity for herself which she has been looking for since years.
Husband change maker for female hygiene
Jitendra Prasad is a farmer and has two daughters and three sons. He makes sure all his children are in school. One day Dharma Life came to his village to talk about menstrual hygiene. Realizing his wife already knew all this and managed her and her daughters menstrual health without him knowing, made Jitendra feel ashamed. His open mind encouraged his wife to join Dharma Life. She now is a successful DLE. Understanding the importance of hygiene, Jitendra built a toilet at home for his wife and daughters. Jitendra told other men about the importance of toilets. Today, more than 30 percent households in the village have toilets.
The ‘Making periods normal’ program started in 2014 in partnership with Dutch organizations Simavi and Rutgers with financial support of the Dutch Postcode Lottery and ends July 2017. However, Dharma Life will continue to work in these areas, as a sustainable entrepreneurial model is created. In addition to this, the program will be scaled up to two more districts in Bihar with all current program partners.