I am accumulating additional skills and saving money. Soon, I will open my own tailoring shop and employ others.”
Priya, 19 years old girl, lives in Bagri village of Tonk District, Rajasthan with her parents, grandparents and her younger brother. Her father is the sole breadwinner of the family and her mother works on the land along with social work in her free time. Priya is now in her 2ndyear of a self employment tailor course. She also supports her family financially along with her education. Priya always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and one day opening her own tailoring shop. This aspiration pushed her to pursue the course through the Vocational Education and Training Centre in Tonk, Rajasthan. She learned many valuable technical skills, but that wasn’t the only thing she gained.
The More than Brides alliance in partnership with Shiv Shiksha Samiti, Ranoli, runs the marriage no Child’s play projectIn May 2017, Priya became a member of the adolescent girls’ discussion. She really enjoys it and learnt about life skills, her rights and issues that affect adolescent girls life. She was particularly moved by the discussions around the negative efffects of getting married at an early age and also learnt that getting married before the age of 18 is illegal.
Priya was just 17 years when her grandparents fixed engagement against her wish. To minimize the cost of marriage, they wanted to organise her marriage along with her cousin’s sister’s marriage. But, Priya was not ready to get married; she wanted to continue her education and would like to achieve her dream of becoming a fashion designer. Priya was very disturbed with the decision of her grandparents and wanted to stop the marriage proposal. Priya and her mother tried to convince her grandparents to postpone it, but their efforts were in vain. Priya, however, did not lose hope. She tried again and again to convince her grandparents. She expressed her feelings and goals of life with confidence. She argued that she wanted to complete her graduation and be financially independent before getting married. She convinced them that she would be able to earn soon and then support her family financially. After many consistent efforts, finally she succeeded in convincing her grandparents. Consequently, Priya’s and her cousin marriage was stopped. Priya supported her cousin to enroll in first year of graduation as well.
The Marriage no Child’s Play project has an objective to increase access to economic opportunities for girls at risk and affected by child marriage. Towards this, project is providing start up support to start their own entrepreneurship. Considering her vulnerability at risk of getting married early, and her interest to start entrepreneurship, the project has provided a sewing machine in December 2018. Priya started tailoring work at home. In the beginning, she stitched her own, family’s and friend’s clothes. Afterwards soon, she started taking orders from customers from village. Now, Priya earns between around Rs. 4000 – 5000 per month. She has opened her savings bank account. She is financially empowered. Now she is treated as family asset instead of burden. Her family now gives importance to her ideas and thoughts. She dreams of becoming fashion designer and going to university for further studies, though there are barriers in her way, especially the cost and the entrenched gender norms. To overcome this challenge, she is working very hard and saving money from her current employment.