Brazil - Sewing for Independence


Fundamental human needs include earning a living and creating good living conditions for your children: a roof over your head, enough to eat, clothes, and education for better prospects. In Parelheiros, a neighborhood in the south of São Paulo, Brazil, none of this is a given. Parelheiros is one of the poorest and least developed parts of the city and is marred by violence. It also has a high number of teenage pregnancies. There are hardly any jobs. In most families in Parelheiros, it is the women who are the breadwinners because the men are often unemployed or take no responsibility for the children.

ProBrasil and Knorr-Bremse Global Care decided to support these women and set up a joint project called “Oficina de Costura Álamos” (Álamos sewing workshop). The collaboration began two years ago. A ProBrasil building that was already being used for various art workshops and activities was converted to include a fully equipped training workshop for seamstresses.

Since 2015, the three-year project has trained 75 seamstresses. Twice a week they come here to thread needles, sew, cut fabric, create models, fit garments and do everything else involved in a comprehensive training course. At the end of the course they receive an official certificate, which improves their job prospects. In addition, an organization called Sebrae teaches the women the key basics of running a business. Sebrae promotes the development of small businesses. With what they learn here, the women can set up their own small businesses and become self-employed.

As well as sewing classes, the center is offering the women courses in basic literacy and mathematics, with the help of two volunteer teachers from the local community. This also increases the women’s sense of self-worth – something the teachers are keen to support.

The figures speak for themselves: 26 of the 75 women who have taken part in the sewing course were already earning money before the end of the course. The project will end with the 2018 cohort. They plan to present their own clothing collection this October. One thing is certain: fashion from Parelheiros will come to symbolize independent women.



Brazil - Sewing for Independence

Focal Issue: Education

Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Beneficiaries: 75 unemployed women

Estimated costs:EUR 35,500

Project supervisor: Julia Thiele-Schuerhoff

Partner organization: ProBrasil, Knorr-Bremse Global Care Brazil, Associacao ProBrasil

Duration: July 2015 - July 2018

Further information