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All sewn up

For Noy and millions of other girls like her, the combination of unfinished education, inequality and exploitation are all too familiar. Today, 11 October, is the International Day of the Girl Child which raises awareness of these issues. It also recognises the global efforts that are being made towards a world free of discrimination for young women and girls.

Tearfund | 11 Oct 2016

A tailoring business in rural Laos is proving girls don’t need to risk exploitation abroad to find work.

For Noy and millions of other girls like her, the combination of unfinished education, inequality and exploitation are all too familiar. Today, 11 October, is the International Day of the Girl Child which raises awareness of these issues. It also recognises the global efforts that are being made towards a world free of discrimination for young women and girls.

Like many children in her village, Noy did not make it past primary school. Her parents could not afford it. So when Noy travelled to Thailand from her rural village in Laos, aged just 16, her job prospects didn’t look good. Noy found herself working 16-hour days in a biscuit factory under the scrutiny of a demanding boss.

‘The work was very hard for me and I was always so tired,’ Noy explains.

Noy lasted a year in the factory before exhaustion took hold. At just 17 years old, Noy returned to her village shouldering the burden of how she would help support her family now that she was no longer earning.

Noy and her sewing machine.

Noy and her sewing machine.

Gap in the market
It was then that Noy heard about the job skills training offered by World Concern, a Tearfund-supported organisation. The courses offered tuition in practical skills such as haircutting, sewing, baking and motorcycle repair for young men and women in the community. Recognising that no one else in her village offered professional sewing and tailoring services, Noy saw her chance.

After a two-week sewing course, Noy set up shop. These days, she is kept busy behind her sewing machine in the comfort of her own home. With earnings of up to £16 per week, Noy has enough money to support both herself and her family. ‘Here it is so much better for me to work,’ Noy explains, ‘I am my own boss and I can earn more money doing something I enjoy.’

‘I am my own boss and I can earn more money doing something I enjoy.’
Noy

No place like home
But it’s not just job satisfaction that the skills training has brought her. In the safety of her own home, Noy is free from the very real threat of trafficking and exploitation that accompanies life in Thailand for young migrant women. Noy now attends awareness-raising sessions at her local youth centre. Here she is an advocate to other young women who may consider crossing the border to find work.

‘I would never go back to work in Thailand,’ Noy explains, ‘and I will always tell others that they can get a good job here at home through the job skills training.’

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