A Social Business Programme For Young Women in Rural Areas


What is Kaarya?

Kaarya is a programme on resilience building and empowerment of survivors of trafficking, using micro-business as a tool of economic self reliance. The programme enables community based organisations and NGOs in rural areas to learn how to assist victims of trafficking plan, design and implement micro-businesses, build social and financial security for micro businesses and gain agency and control over their own lives and well being. The programme has been conceived and designed by Sanjog, in collaboration with 2 grassroots organisations in West Bengal, GGBK and Samadhan, in West Bengal, where the programme has been piloted, with support from the French Embassy. Sanjog now offers the programme to other grassroots organisations across India, Bangladesh and Nepal. The programme has been identified as a good practice in a research conducted by the Jadavpur University, Kolkata, the UHI Centre for Rural Children with support from the OAK Foundation.

What is the relevance of this programme?

There are more than a million sex workers in India, of which 40% of them are below the age of 18. There are more than a hundred red light areas in India, and 18 in Bangladesh with more than 30,000 girls in prostitution. Nepal does not have any red light areas but the sex trade industry in Kathmandu has grown through beer bars. More than 2,000 girls and young women are rescued from red light areas every year, most of them from metropolitan cities of Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. Adolescent girls and young women are returned to their families in villages, where life integrating in the community becomes a challenge: with stigma, shame, lack of employment opportunities, poverty, sexual harassment and self-alienation (low self esteem, guilt). Many girls and women often return to brothels in resignation, despair and anger. Vocational training programmes in rural areas do not lead to employment or income generation, since NGOs find it difficult to run production units, build market linkages and run businesses professionally to generate profit. In Where Have All The Flowers Gone, a research on sex trafficking in India, evidence shows that girls rescued from prostitution and returned back home often end up in worse situations than before, and rural NGOs do not have the resources or experience of working with survivors on economic alternatives or ways of fighting social stigma, psychological torture or guilt and internalized shame in victims.

Who does Kaarya benefit and how?

Victims of trafficking, who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs and self employment are trained in planning, setting up and running their businesses, learning how to maintain the business and protect it from risks and harm and to establish their business in a competitive market. It also offers workshops for girls and women to help them deal with their internalized guilt and shame, and develops their life skills to cope with stigma and sexual harassment and help her build her resilience, self esteem and internal resources. The programme trains grassroots activists and social workers on restorative practices and how to work with victims rather than for them or to them. It trains organisations on the programme module with teaches them on using planning tools with the young women to help them conceive, design and plan their businesses, methods on how to build social support for the initiative, how to work with survivors to strengthen their resilience, how to facilitate linkages with stakeholders so as to minimize risks and harms and build security of the businesses.

What does the programme entail?

The one year programme comprises of :
  • Three 6 day workshops with the project target group and social workers
  • Coaching and training for social workers and their supervisor in the grassroots organisation that implements the programme
  • Helps grassroots organisations build strategies, methods and tools to build support for the programme in the community, build stakeholder support for the programme and counter social stigma of girls through a social communication programme

Who can benefit from the training?

The programme is most relevant to grassroots organisations working in rural India and Bangladesh, on empowerment and rehabilitation of victims of sex trafficking who return to their villages and families.