In this picture, Kashmiri women can be seen filling jars of food products Photograph:( WION )
The Indian army is helping with the marketing of these products and soon they will be selling them online as well
The women of rural areas of Kashmir are no more dependent on their male folks, as the Indian army helps set up many women's self-help groups in various districts of the Kashmir region. These earnings are making these women independent and also supporting their families.
In a small village called Gund in the Kangan area of central Kashmir's Ganderbal district, these twenty women got together with the help of the Indian army and started a self-help group called Sonamarg foods. They make pickles and jams and their products are sold across the country. The apple jam is made from locally grown apples while pickles are made from fresh garden vegetables from the Ganderbal area.
“We started this group three months ago, we make jams and pickles here. We make Jams from Local apples, and pickles from fresh veggies. There are around 15-20 girls here. This is a great opportunity for girls to become independent and earn a livelihood. The Indian army has supported us in this. The army enquired about this area and said if you girls want to do something, they will support you. Not everyone is meant for jobs but some should start their own business. The Indian army funded this whole project and even the marketing is being done by them. We don’t need to be dependent on our male folks, we should be independent” said Nighat Tabasum, member of a self-help group. "
The women have prepared a fresh consignment of 500 bottles of pickles and hundreds of bottles of jams ready to be dispatched to different parts of the country. The Indian army is helping with the marketing of these products and soon they will be selling them online as well. The packaging and branding also was done with the help of the Indian army.
''We have made 500 bottles of pickles and many bottles of Jams. The packaging is complete and we are ready to dispatch them. We have been making them for around 3 months. The Indian army helped us with getting this group together, making these products, and also now they are helping with selling these products. We used to sit idle at home and now with the help of the army, we are able to make a living. We want other girls from the community to join us. '' said Jabeena Banu, Coordinator, Self Help Group.
The girls were initially trained by the Indian army in how to make pickles and jams from locally grown produce. After the training, they started making these products, and now there are many women wanting to join such groups.
"We were taught how to make pickles and Jams and then started making it ourselves. We told every girl in the village about it and asked them to join. We are earning our livelihood by it. We are thankful to the army who came here and taught us and made us a part of this self-help group. '' said Afreena, a member.
These initiatives by the Indian army are not only empowering the women in the far-flung areas of the Kashmir Valley but also inspiring hundreds of others to start a business of their own.