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SNEHA is a non-profit organisation working in the slums of Mumbai, India on extensive and inclusive programmes in Maternal and Newborn Health, Child Health and Nutrition, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Prevention of Violence against Women and Children.  Part of this work is the livelihoods programme, where a variety of seamstress skills is taught to the most vulnerable women within the community - strongly advocating financial independence to empower women.

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Kavita's story:

Kavita lives in the largest slum in South Asia - in the very heart of Mumbai - Dharavi. 

Dharavi slum was founded in 1882 during the British colonial era. The slum grew in part because of an explosion of in the number of factories and residents, overspilling from the peninsular city centre, and from rural poor migrating into urban Mumbai (then called Bombay). It is currently a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, diverse settlement. Dharavi's total population is estimated to be around 1 million making it the most densely populated place on the planet.

Kavita’s father died when she was 10, leaving her mother to bring up Kavita and her three brothers on less than a dollar a day. Kavita and her two older brothers left school when they were 12 to work in menial, low skilled jobs. At aged 16, Kavita’s mother wanted her to get married to reduce the financial burden on the family. Instead, Kavita persuaded her mother to let her take a seamstress training course.

Kavita is now 23 and has been working at SNEHA for the past five years. Before moving out of her childhood home, when she got married 5 months ago, Kavita was the highest earner in her family. She persuaded her mother to keep her younger brother in education by financially supporting both her mother and brother. Because of her increased status in the family, due to her economic input, she was allowed to choose her own husband and marry at a time of her own choosing. She is delaying having a family for another five years and currently earns more than her husband, enabling her to take an equal role in all matters within their marriage.

"Now I have learnt these skills, I earn more money than my husband giving me an equal say in the family finances, I can afford to keep my brother in school for longer and am in control of how many children I have".

Kavita was one of a team of women who made the block printed peacock scarf by SNEHA.

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