RAGS Project Exceeds Targets to Combat Gender Discrimination

The Project’s workshops in India offer a timely focus on gender discrimination to foster change

January 2013

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Photos (from left): 1) Participants in Bangalore deliberate during a group activity; 2) Snapshot of a banner that was made by women being mentored by the organization Kaurageous; 3) Participants in Tirupur post their thoughts on gender discrimination. [Photo credit: Rishi Sher Singh] For more photos, visit on.fb.me/RYBoBX.

SAI's RAGS Project continues at full steam across India. Led by SAI India Project Director Rishi Sher Singh, the project in 2012 convened 13 workshops, with 307 participants from 131 factories to implement “Management Systems to Address Gender Discrimination” in the ready-made garment sector. This exceeds the project’s initial targets of 270 participants and 100 factories.
These trainings are being supported and co-delivered by local organizations such as SAVE in Tirupur and Sutradhara in Delhi. The RAGS program is supported by UKAID from the Department for International Development (DFID). 

The workshops provideded a space for participants to raise awareness about gender discrimination in the factory as well as at the community level. Gender discrimination draws ever more widespread and intense attention in India. The brutal rape of a 23-year old medical student in New Delhi, which resulted in her death two weeks later, has galvanized both Indians and a global audience to closely examine the structural inequities that perpetuate this behavior, and their implications for the safety of women. 

Positive and encouraging feedback about the RAGS course continues to come in. In a survey taken by all participants, 92% said that they would recommend this training for others in their factory. One participant from a major retail brand mentioned, “although all the factories are maintaining the committees on sexual harassment, participation in this workshop actually increased their awareness on this subject…we are sure that these kinds of workshops will help the factory personnel to better perform their duties.”

The transformative impact of the workshops has already been observed. In specific cases, these trainings have sensitized legal officers of garments factories to the needs of workers, especially women. For example, a garment factory worker had been sick for days, and her father asked her to return to her village to give her proper care. However, the factory management denied her sick leave. The request was elevated by SAVE to the factory's legal officer. He had attended the training, interacted with the trainers, and he agreed to provide the woman with sick leave to return to her village. While this may seem like a simple decision, it was a notable moment that signified a transformation in attitude. Following this, another young woman in a different factory was also granted sick leave from her work to take care of herself.

Parallel to these workshops, Mr. Singh has also been supporting the work of “KauraJus” a group whose mission is to help underprivileged women and children in India. This gave him an opportunity to visit slums in Bangalore, to better understand women’s issues first-hand. This brought added perspectives in shaping the RAGS project trainings. The jute RAGS banner in the photo above, created by KauraJus, is a symbolic reminder for all workshop participants. For more information on these activities, please read the article by KauraJus' Founder Pushpinder Kaur - ‘KauraJus – Weaving Hope in Women.

Additional trainings continue until May 2013. For more information, please view the course brochure, or the Project’s web page at www.sa-intl.org/indiarags.

To apply to participate in these trainings, please contact SAI India Project Director Rishi Sher Singh – rishi@sa-intl.org

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