Occupational mobility through Vocational Training

In order to accomplish economic self-sufficiency and occupational mobility, and in tandem with creating savings and credit routes through WDF and other programmes for rural women, vocational training for a number of trades was undertaken to expand women’s skill base.

In the face of gender disparity in a mainly agro-based rural economy and abysmal illiteracy levels in particular, rural women required assistance in developing skills and relevant knowledge. Therefore, RDT started vocational trainings for skill development in 1993. For many women, vocational training in skills such as tailoring, embroidery, making incense sticks, sanitary napkins and assorted handicraft designing like kalamkari, proves beneficial for small scale enterprise and supplemental income creation. RDT opened various Vocational Training Centres (VTCs), provided raw materials, ensured marketing network and mobilised resources from other programmes and facilities to make small-scale business and self-employment viable for women

Financial inputs for small scale businesses like milch cattle, goat and chicken farming are managed through Women Development Fund (WDF), especially in arid, rain dependent areas with poor agricultural yield. Scented-agarbathi making is one of the popular skills training programme.It is easy to learn, requires less capital and on marketing, fetches a reasonable income, better, and less intensive, than paid causal labour schemes (like the government’s MG-NREGS). RDT assistance in this respect has been very beneficial for divorced, widowed women and the poorest illiterate women. After skills development, they are earning daily incomes ranging from Rs. 75 to Rs. 125.

“Skill development ensures more employment avenues for many rural women. More than that, it is the confidence they gain which improves the whole community in small ways. ”
Mrs. Lakshmi Narasimhan,
Professor - Women's Studies, University

In some cases like book-binding and power loom training, internal review and assessment has rendered the learning that more market linkages need to be built in order for the schemes to be sustainable. For instance, power looms in Narpala could not function properly, and were subsequently shifted to Konapuram (Madakasira region) where they are now working successfully. With CHW’s intervention of directly marketing sanitary pads to village women, it’s training and production also became very successful.

Vocational Training Centre (VTC) for women, at Gandlapenta

RDT survey revealed that many women from Gandlapenta and Nambulapulakunta migrate to other places in search of livelihood. Agriculture did not have year-long continuity here and unskilled labour had no income assurance, forcing them to migrate. In order to arrest migration, which could also potentially lead to human trafficking, and to rehabilitate such women, RDT started a skill development

centre at Gandlapenta in 2006 where rural women are trained in skills as per their interest to create more livelihood opportunities. After training, these skills enable them to be more self-reliant, earn income in their native place and take decisions that have economic implications. With additional income in hand, women are now more open to sending their children to school, rather than making them work as labourers in the hope of earning some extra money.


“Vocational training by RDT has a very direct impact on livelihood possibilities. Our functionaries identified and contacted women susceptible to migration due to economic compulsions. Before enrolling them for training in suitable trades of their interest, we understood their problems through counselling. On an average, 20 to 22 women are trained in each trade and we are very proud of them as now they are skilled not only in production but have also acquired entrepreneurial abilities through the training process and exposure. The maxim that ‘teach fishing, instead of giving a fish always’ is translated into action by the VTC in Gandlapenta”. – Mrs. Marriamman Reddy, RDT Staff, Vocational Training Centre (VTC), Gandlapenta

Ms. Naga Lakshmi,STL, Women Programme


“When my husband deserted me and I was facing many problems, I thought of escaping from life. As such, at the time I would not have taken any drastic decision because I had two young children; but I had no means to support them and was looked down upon by society, not knowing how I would rebuild my life. My parents led a life of respect and I decided to return to their house in Sadulavandla Palli. It was a critical moment when I met RDT workers in the village who understood me and my plight. I visited RDT’s rehabilitation centre in Gandlapenta and received counselling. I could get sponsorship for both my children and was admitted for provision of monthly nutritional package. After becoming a member of a women group, I realised that I could work and earn independently if I acquire additional skills. I applied for training in making incense sticks at RDT skill development centre in Gandlapenta. There were also other women like me who were rejected or abused by their husbands but were now training and learning to be economically independent. Now, during agricultural seasons, I work as labour and rest of the time, I involve myself in preparing incense sticks, for which RDT supplies raw material. I earn enough to support me and my children and feel contended that I could do something for ourselves.“

RDT not only rescued but also empowered me by imparting the skills required for earning a decent living.

Ms. Bharathi,
Sadulavandla Palli


Financial and social independence through vocational training has improved women’s respect and also reduced the cases of violence against them with men now understanding, that women are equally talented and capable as they are.