Banashankari means goddess of the forest. This group named themselves after the patron of their families that live in a cluster in Kyasanahalli in Bengaluru. The women were trained by an NGO but getting regular orders for sewing was an issue meaning it was likely they would make a reliable income. The women in this group do not have any say in the family affairs. Vesting purchasing power with women is not within the norms of their families, however Secret Projects gives them the ability to empower themselves. The group is remote from city and they therefore do not have job opportunities within their reach. Educating the children and looking after their needs is taken care with the income earned through the Secret Project. Banashankari group have been part of the network over a year and have been able to have a sewing machine, mend old ones and impart quality education to their children.
Shylaja is the leader of the Banashankari group (third from the left) and at 14 her family circumstances meant that she had to drop out of school. Shylaja married some years later, but again found herself living in poverty. Having learned to sew as a girl, she began working long hours in a garment factory to support her husband and 2 young sons, but this began to take a toll on her health. As the leader of a women's self help group called Banashankari in her community, Shylaja learned about Secret Projects and their work to empower women in India. She completed Secret Projects 4 stage empowerment programme and has gone on to train the other women in her group and set up a successful sewing and training unit of her own. She now earns enough income to send her sons to school and live more comfortably, as well as providing women in her community with an opportunity to earn their own incomes.
You can read her full story and interview here.