Dignified Livelihoods for ex-Manual Scavengers







Madhya Pradesh, India

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Jan Sahas Womens’ Livelihoods Project

COVID Update

During the crisis, every woman in the project and her family, along with many more people in the Jan Sahas network, have been directly supported with emergency aid. More than 3,500 people in total have been offered food aid and hygiene kits, with many others given support to claim government financial and food aid. As the project starts to open again, women are being supported to earn, when possible, in a socially distanced environment or at home in individual sewing centres and self-owned shops.

What are the challenges?

Women born into the degrading caste based occupation of ‘manual scavenging’ are expected to clean dry latrines as their caste duty in exchange for a few rupees and scraps of food. Their husbands can only obtain work cleaning sewers and drains. These women are looked down upon by their communities, routinely facing physical and sexual violence, and their children face discrimination at school. Women from this background often had little or no formal education, and lack the confidence and knowledge to claim their rights. 

What is the aim of the project?

The project aims to provide an opportunity for these women to obtain alternative, dignified livelihoods. This includes training and guidance on business and entrepreneurship skills, and either work as employees in collective tailoring centres or support to start their own small businesses. 

What are the main activities?

  • Women are given support and regular skill training to increase their abilities and confidence in tailoring and business
  • Industry professionals give practical support in building a business and entrepreneurship with an emphasis on sustainability
  • Training is given to provide knowledge and access to government entitlements, learn about their individual rights, and raise awareness among the community