Tasleen hails from Uttar Pradesh; the most populous state in India, where she learnt embroidery as a girl in her village. She told us she loves to do embroidery; especially floral patterns. She’s been a director at SEWA for five years. This involves her in the decision making process of the organisation. SEWA empowers their members to determine the work they do and the rates they want to work at.
After marriage, 16 years ago at the age of 16, Tasleen moved to Delhi, where she now lives in the eastern outskirts of the city. She is the happy mother of four children, aged between one and a half and fourteen years, but her family struggles with the high costs of living in Delhi.
Her husband works as an auto driver (the three-wheeled tuk-tuks that ply Delhi’s streets) and his income is irregular. In fact, her family lives in a compound with an incredible 18 other people - the families of her husband’s seven siblings.
Tasleen, her husband and their four children have recently been moved by the other family members to the more dilapidated area of the compound as they are unable to cover all their household expenses, so Tasleen depends more than ever on the work she does through SEWA.
It's taken a lot of courage for Tasleen to get this far. She's had no formal education and she comes from a conservative community that expects women to stay at home and do household chores: women are viewed as economic burdens, not as contributors to the household. It's a community where women do not work independently, and certainly do not become directors of one of the world's largest trade unions!
Meet Tasleen, director of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a trade union representing some two million self-employed women workers across India.
Tasleen is also skilled at embroidery and has worked on our range of Khadi X Squares.