15 Nov Saivana Exports and the girl child
For years now, India as a country and society always liked to put the girl child in the ‘Liabilities” column as opposed to the boy child who was always considered an “”ASSET who would” earn for and carry forward the family name. In fact, once upon a time, India also had one of the highest female foeticide rates in the world where upon learning the sex of the unborn child, parents went for terminating the pregnancy in case it was a girl. It is ironical that India, being a land of thousand Gods, also worships a thousand Goddesses and here girls were being discriminated against left right and centre in real life.
About 8 years of starting Saivana Exports, I casually happened to ask one of my top senior skilled technicians as to how many children he had. The answer was a whopping 8 children, 3 boys, and 5 girls. The number should not surprise many people who know India where in rural India, an increasing number of children was considered for a long time as normal. In fact, the more children there were, it meant more people to work in the fields. This was changed after a lot of years of education by the Government of India about keeping the families small in number. Anyway, coming back to the story of the skilled technician, when I asked him as to which of his children were going to school and what class they were in, he replied that only the boys were attending the school and the girls were at home helping with household chores. Primary education in India is heavily subsidized by the government until class 7 but even that was not considered affordable by a lot of segments of society. The school might be nearly free but the books and uniforms and transportation was not. In this case, we immediately saw a bias against the girl child. While talking about empowering women in the plush drawing rooms of upper strata of society might be considered fanciful, doing something about that is entirely different. Upon making further inquiries, we at Saivana Exports found out that this was the case with nearly 80% of Saivana’s workers, especially those that had migrated from the villages to the cities. They were just keeping the girls home. We immediately made a policy that every permanent worker of Saivana, upon presentation of proper receipts of school fees, books and uniforms would be reimbursed the full amount. This was applicable to 1 girl child per permanent worker of Saivana and if the child showed promise beyond class 7 and wanted to go to any private school, we would pay for the education. It was not mandatory by law for us to do so but it was the correct thing.
Like all good intentional schemes, this scheme did face its own challenges. After a while, we started seeing fudging of bills, fudging of the gender of the child, and in the same case, fictitious receipts of schools which did not exist. This let to a lot of workers being fired because we considered this as a clear breach of trust and it was a slur on the genuine students who were availing of this facility. It took a lot of man-hours to find genuine children but in the end, it was worth it. Today if you interview any Saivana workers, you will find nearly 100% of them send their daughters to school. We made a small difference in our own universe but I am sure, in the case of the girls going to school as a result of our initiative, it added a new dimension to their lives so that they could be better equipped to face the challenges of the future.
Saivana Exports Private Limited is a manufacturer exporter of very high-end ladies and children garments to some of the leading fashion designers and fashion houses across the globe. Contact leading garment export house.