May 23, 2017 – Last week Center for Girls partnered with the Starfish Foundation in Chiang Rai to provide vocational skills training to a group of Lahu women from Songpinong Village we reached through our Women for Change pilot project. Women for Change aims to empower women to work towards eradicating gender-based violence in Chiang Khong – by empowering others. Surveys identified financial abuse as the most common form of control exercised over women. How to tackle this? Women for Change participants and women from Songpinong decided together: through gaining financial independence out of given resources. So, training on how to make bags using traditional techniques from Lahu culture was hold over two days.
On Day 1 the women learned from our expert Kroo Pron how to stitch the design for the bag. It was a long day spent sewing different colored fabrics together, but it was worth it to see the beautiful designs each woman had made.
On Day 2 everyone finished up their main pieces and began the process of making their designs into bags. We were fortunate enough to have four sewing machines from the Child Rights Protection Center (bought with money raised from their successful fundraiser) and the women took full advantage of this. Though this project was small, it was a huge success and it will equip Songpinong’s women with an additional source of income.
Each woman was given materials to make two more bags and Center for Girls will have a follow up visit in March to see the progress of the project. The women will sell their creations in their communities and eventually, as they increase confidence and improve skills, they will broaden their customer base using the Starfish Foundation and Center for Girls‘ connections. The project’s goal is to give the participants the tools they need to create an online shop. This source of income will support these women to be more financially independent, and have more bargaining power within their families.
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