When Geetha, 33, a mother of two, started work­ing as trainee op­er­a­tor at Sil­ver Spark Ap­parel, a state-of-theart fac­tory of Ray­mond, in vil­lage Ma­jara Hosa­halli, 37 km from Ban­ga­lore city, where fab­rics get shaped into suits, jack­ets, and trousers for in­ter­na­tional ex­port mar­kets, she was scared to see au­to­mated ma­chines around her, and had no clue about their func­tion­ing. Now, some eight years later, em­ployed as an as­sis­tant su­per­vi­sor and head­ing an all-women team of 12, she is guiding them to shed their in­hi­bi­tions, ac­quire skills, and be­come fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent.

Com­ing from an eco­nom­i­cally weaker fam­ily of five, al­ways strug­gling with fi­nances, and hav­ing stud­ied only till class 10, this has been a mat­ter of pride for Geetha. “Reg­u­lar coun­selling by the hu­man re­source de­part­ment and other ini­tia­tives taken by the or­gan­i­sa­tion have in­stilled con­fi­dence in me to take on higher re­spon­si­bil­ity. My think­ing has changed; I now be­lieve that all prob­lems can be solved through bet­ter thoughts and process,” she tells us sit­ting in the fac­tory can­teen. Try­ing to re­write her destiny through sheer hard work and steely willpower, Geetha is just one ex­am­ple of sev­eral oth­ers work­ing there try­ing to break walls and emerge as so­cial lead­ers.

Dur­ing our visit to sec­ond Sil­ver Spark Ap­parel plant, in Gau­ribida­nur, the his­tor­i­cal town in Ko­lar dis­trict, on Andhra Pradesh-Kar­nataka border, we came across yet another in­spir­ing story. 38-year-old Renukamma, who comes from a fam­ily of seven, de­pen­dent on daily wages, started work­ing at the fa­cil­ity, also as trainee op­er­a­tor, in 2008, after hav­ing lived a life of drudgery and slav­ery.

As­signed to work in the fin­ish­ing de­part­ment, she man­aged to pick up work within six months of join­ing, with con­stant help from her head of de­part­ment, also a woman. She has even un­der­gone training to be a team leader; that’s the level of her en­thu­si­asm and pas­sion. “We used to live in a house with leak­ing roof and didn’t have the money to fix that. But, our fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion changed after I started work­ing at Sil­ver Spark. I could af­ford to build a new house for us. I even got my daugh­ter mar­ried and am now sav­ing for my son’s ed­u­ca­tion,” she says.

This is what em­pow­er­ment is in its sim­plest, but ef­fec­tive form. From be­ing taught how to con­trol the pedal of the ma­chine to learn­ing how to draft, cut, sew, stitch and pack, these women get to know all that after two to three months of on-the-job training. As Venkatesh S, Head, HR & Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Sil­ver Spark Ap­parel Ltd says, “We have re­fer­ral pro­gramme of ‘each one bring one’ and of­fer in­cen­tives to women who rec­om­mend other women.”

It is heart­en­ing to see these women do dex­ter­ous jobs with such ease; work­ing on re­lay ta­ble, check­ing upon the jacket shell panel and jacket lin­ing num­ber­ing be­fore giv­ing the suit their seal of ap­proval to be packed and shipped to its port of des­ti­na­tion.

Work­ers at Sil­ver Spark Ap­parel fac­tory, Ban­ga­lore

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