Published on: 27/09/2022
Photo caption: Pragati project Odisha, India - training session. Credit: IRC
From 28-30 April 2022, 15 members of 5 women’s Self-help Groups (SHGs) of Chatrapur block in Ganjam district of Odisha, India, were provided training in soap making. The training was organised as part of the Pragati project implemented by the Centre for Youth and Social Development (CYSD). This was the second round of soap making training provided to the participants, at the request of the Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS). The first took place in March 2022.
Photo caption: Pragati project Odisha, India - training session - women making soap. Credit: IRC
The soap making training element of the Pragati project followed a series of activities, including capacity building workshops and a knowledge camp, beginning from November 2021. The capacity building workshops involved making women SHG members aware on topics such as the platforms for community planning and decision making, budgets available for basic services in the community, rights as citizens, leadership skills to participate in decision making platforms and holding duty bearers accountable. The knowledge camp was held to underline the importance of hygiene and encourage adoption and promotion of good hand hygiene practices.
The training on soap making addressed the supply side of the hygiene demand created by the knowledge camp. It included theoretical and practical knowledge on the topic. The training provided the participants hands on experience in preparing four varieties of soaps using locally available ingredients - namely, Turmeric, Aloe Vera, Neem and Tulsi.
Photo caption: Pragati project Odisha, India - training session - woman making soap. Credit: IRC
On the final day of the three-day training, each of the SHGs was given some seed money to set up a small soap manufacturing unit. The seed money was handed over in a formal ceremony by the Deputy Director of ORMAS – Dr. Jyoti Prakash Mohanty. Dr. Mohanty encouraged the participants to use the seed money to set up soap manufacturing units and promised to provide support in packaging and marketing of the end product manufactured by the SHGs, through the Ganjam Haat Marketing Society.
Pragati project Odisha, India - training session - Dr Jyoti Prakash Mohanty (standing). Credit: IRC
Photo caption: S. Sarojini, Community Resource Person, Ma Ganga Debi SHG, Aryapalli Gram Pachayat. Credit: IRC
“The (soap making) trainings were great; I enjoyed and learnt so much from them. (Otherwise) we would buy soaps from the market without even knowing the ingredients that go into making them. Here, we learnt how to make them from scratch… (Now), I know what goes into making soaps. I can make the soaps at home too. My son has been very excited about these trainings. He is surprised to learn that we can make soaps on our own, independent of a big shop or a factory. He has been curious about the type of soaps that we have learnt to make, how they smell, if they lather... I know that our soaps can be used by the young, the elderly, everyone. I will try to produce some through our SHG for sure.”
On International Women's Day in March 2020, IRC participated in the CPC Run The Hague to raise funds for a series of women's empowerment workshops in Ganjam, our partner district in India's Odisha state. These "She makes change" workshops aimed to increase local women's participation in political and social decision making for sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for all.
In December 2020 IRC received funding from the Waterloo Foundation to involve Ganjam's women in hygiene promotion and soap production. Since both the She Makes Change and the Waterloo Foundation project focused on empowering women in Ganjam district, it seemed logical to merge them. And so Pragati was born - Pragati, meaning progress is also a popular Indian name for girls.