MORE than 2,000 unemployed Bahraini women will be given a new lease of life by setting up their own tailoring and fashion design businesses, it was announced yesterday.
They will be given the opportunity to take part in a tailoring and design training project, launched by the Supreme Council for Women in co-ordination with the Labour Fund, the Bahrain Training Institute (BTI) and various non-governmental organisations.
The scheme will help reduce the number of unemployed women in Bahrain, who constitute 76.6 per cent of jobless Bahrainis, said council secretary-general Dr Lulwa Al Awadhi.
Unemployed Bahraini women, between the ages of 19 and 45, with a high school education and willing to receive training and work in the field of tailoring and design are eligible to participate.
Dr Al Awadhi said that the first phase of the project is to train the unemployed Bahraini women in tailoring and design.
"After receiving the necessary training, the women will receive the necessary materials to establish a small tailoring business from home until they gradually establish their own tailoring and design factory," she told a Press conference following a signing ceremony for the scheme held at the council in Riffa.
"Hopefully this project will help create further job opportunities that will contribute to solve the problem of unemployment among women."
Dr Al Awadhi said that it would also open doors for women workers that were dismissed from textile factories due to cutbacks.
Gulf Baraka Garments and sister company French Garments, which closed in February last year, resulted in 1,200 women, including 300 Bahrainis, losing their jobs.
The shareholders of the company, which had been operating for more than 12 years, decided to close it down after five years without a profit.
"This project will offer economic stability to them especially as there is a social acceptance to the tailoring and design profession in the Bahraini society and the easy necessary skills for it," said Dr Al Awadhi.
"The scheme will hopefully herald the start of several innovative projects that the council and the Labour Fund will work on jointly to empower women with training, business skills and employability.
"We are looking at several other projects, which will be announced soon."
Labour Fund acting chief executive Abulelah Ebrahim Al Qassimi said that the training would include basics business administration, accounting, customer services and law courses.
"The project will train 30 ladies at the BTI and will include six modules, which will be carried out for a period of six months."
Mr Al Qassimi said that it included practical training in design and tailoring such as cutting, embroidery, design and lectures that deal with managing businesses.
"The labour fund will support the participants with a stipend of BD60 throughout the six month training period.
"The BTI workshop has also been fitted with exactly the same machines that the ladies will later be using in their business."
Mr Al Qassimi said that the Labour Fund would end the training with a BD500 start up loan and three machines to handle the high quality tailoring work for those ladies who complete the course. He said that the project is a challenge for all those involved.
"The participants are women who are in real need of extra income, but who have few resources and formal skills to find work in the regular offices," said Mr AL Qassimi.
"We are creating a template that will probably serve well in reaching other such groups, but most importantly we are creating an entrepreneurial wellspring that the community can tap into."
BTI director Hameed Saleh said that although the requirements were clear, the project would give priority to the unemployed women who have basic skills in tailoring.
"While we have certain criteria and will personally assess all the applicants, we have agreed to be very flexible since the idea is to give these women a new lease of life and create economic stability," he said.
"Perhaps the only strict rules will be that the applicants should be unemployed in order to participate in the course and also that they should have basic sewing skills."
Applications are currently being accepted at the BTI which is expected to begin on July 1.