towers above many of her countrywomen and exudes strength, courage, and positivity, both physically and emotionally. Yet despite her big smile, she has had to overcome many obstacles on her road to independence.

To experience sofiya's story of transformation

As a girl growing up in India, Sofiya always believed that she was capable of so much more. In a place where women are expected to be dependent upon others, she dreamt of earning a living for herself and forging her own path.

Gender inequality has plagued India for centuries, limiting education and job opportunities for women across the country.

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India ranks 132 out of 187 countries on the gender inequality index, lower than all other Asian countries except Afghanistan.

gender inequality graph

When Sofiya was 18 years old, she learned about a partnering Noonday Collection equitable trade group based in New Delhi.

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When Sofiya heard about their jewelry-making program, she knew she wanted to become an artisan.

For months, Sofiya begged her father to let her work for the group, but he opposed the idea—unsurprising, since

only 29% of Indian women join the workforce.

“I was trying to convince my father that if I don't work now, I'll never work my whole life,” Sofiya explains.

Sofiya's father was eventually persuaded by her persistence

and Sofiya happily began working for Noonday’s partner as a packager.

At the workshop, she earned a

Fair Wage

and participated in programs where she learned

about her rights as an Indian citizen and as a woman.

sofiya at work

Sofiya still remembers receiving her first paycheck and presenting it to her father. Now, Sofiya’s father could see the value of her work.

“My dad told
me I had made
him proud,”
she says.

When her father became sick, Sofiya was suddenly responsible for the bulk of her family’s daily expenses, a responsibility she readily accepted.

She was even able to make improvements to her family’s home–whitewashing the walls and installing a clean water supply.

Sadly, Sofiya’s father passed away not long after he became sick.

While Sofiya was heartbroken by his absence, she remained thankful that she could provide for her family in his place.

She continued to succeed at her work and eventually achieved her goal of

Becoming a jewelry-maker

What’s more, her siblings, who had all but disowned her because of her job, saw what she had accomplished and are now supportive of Sofiya’s work.

Sofiya’s earnings have allowed her to support her mother, ensure that two of her nieces finish school, and have even provided her with enough money to buy her own motorbike, a rare symbol of independence among Indian women.

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“I’ve faced so many things I’ve overcome,” she tells us, and these challenges have only made her dream bigger.

Sofiya is the definition of a woman empowered, proof that the overwhelming gender inequality in her country is slowly but surely crumbling.

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If women like Sofiya continue to stand up to the statistics, it’s only a matter of time before they are overcome for good.

“I want to become a jewelry designer and go abroad,” she says proudly.

When you purchase from Noonday Collection, you create opportunity for someone like Sofiya.

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Noonday Collection uses fashion and design to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable.