A group of eight women in traditional South Asian attire, smiling and standing in a workshop, each holding a canvas tote bag. Bright lighting overhead.

Defying Expectations: Saima's Story of Empowerment

Meet Saima. With her brilliant smile and zest for learning, you’d never guess the burdens she's borne. It's easy to overlook the weight of her story, but like many women, Saima’s tale is one of resilience.


Cultural Norms and the Burden of Being Born a Girl

In some cultures, the birth of a girl often prompts more worry than celebration. Girls can be seen as economic burdens, due to costly dowries and strong social pressures that prioritize sons as heirs and economic supporters. These norms dictate that girls transition from dependency on their fathers to their husbands, never truly getting a chance to stand on their own.


Breaking Barriers: Saima's Fight for Independence

But Saima is changing that narrative. Growing up as the eldest of four sisters, she saw firsthand the constraints placed on women in her community. With an aging father and a mother battling paralysis, the responsibility of providing for her family fell heavily on her young shoulders. The societal path laid before her was fraught with pitfalls, where many women in desperate circumstances fall prey to human trafficking and exploitation.

The fight against modern slavery, a battle we are deeply invested in at MADE FREE, is undeniably a gendered issue. According to Walk Free, females account for a staggering 99% of all victims of forced sexual exploitation, 84% of all victims of forced marriage, and 58% of all victims of forced labor. This form of exploitation thrives on power imbalances, which are significantly magnified by gender inequality and discrimination. 

"Although modern slavery affects everyone, there is no escaping the fact that it is a gendered issue. Fundamentally, modern slavery is enabled by power imbalances. For women and girls, this imbalance is exacerbated by gender inequality and discrimination that is deeply engrained into the fabric of our lives." 

- Caroline Adhiambo, Membership and Research Coordinator for Azadi Kenya 

As a society, it's our responsibility to challenge these injustices at every opportunity, advocating for the equitable treatment and inclusion of women in all spheres of life. Learn more about economic empowerment for change. 


Empowerment Through MADE FREE: Earning and Learning

A woman with dark hair is seen from above, sewing a label into a striped lining of a gray backpack. The label reads "HANDMADE".

Saima's story took a different turn the day a family friend introduced her to MADE FREE. This opportunity wasn't just about finding employment; it was her gateway to a new life. MADE FREE promised a safe, dignified environment where Saima could earn a livable wage and learn—acquiring life skills and building self-worth that far transcended the traditional roles assigned to her.


Inspiring Change: Saima's Impact on Her Family and Community

At MADE FREE, Saima thrived. Her quick learning abilities shone as she mastered the craft of handmaking MADE FREE products. Each item she created was a step towards independence, a stitch in her fabric of empowerment. This work, however, was more than just a job; it was a transformation that echoed through her entire family, bringing them not just financial relief but also pride in their daughter’s achievements.

Despite ongoing challenges, with three younger sisters still at home and the health of her parents deteriorating, Saima found new meaning and hope in her days. Her success at MADE FREE became a source of inspiration, proving that when given the right opportunities, women can dramatically alter not just their own life paths but also influence those around them positively.

A Symbol of Hope and Resilience

A group of joyful women dressed in colorful traditional Indian attire, celebrating with raised hands and smiles at an outdoor event.

Today, Saima continues to shine as a symbol of what can be achieved when determination meets opportunity. At MADE FREE, we are not just proud of her; we are inspired by her. Her journey underscores the profound impact of empowering women, showcasing the ripple effects it can have within a family and a community.

Saima is no longer just making a living; she is making a life marked by independence, resilience, and hope. Her story is a powerful reminder of the potential that lies in every woman, waiting to be unleashed when provided with the right support and opportunities. At MADE FREE, Saima is not just a success story; she is a beacon of change, illuminating the path for others in her wake.



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