Expected to open in August this year, the project will give jobs directly and indirectly to at least 300 women.

This new mall in Kozhikode will be run by women for women
news Empowerment Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 15:16

In August, just as Onam arrives in Kerala, a new mall will be launched in Kozhikode. To be called Mahila, meaning woman, the mall will be located opposite Fathima Hospital on Wayanad Road. Entirely and exclusively for women, the mall is a project by the Kozhikode Corporation Kudumbashree, in association with the District Kudumbashree Mission.

“It is meant to coincide with the 20th year celebrations of Kudumbashree,” says Ramsy Ismail, Kudumbashree project officer. The project will give jobs directly and indirectly to at least 300 women, Ramsy reckons. Preference would be given to Kudumbashree workers but there is also space for women’s societies and private ventures.

The Kudumbashree Mahila Mall – that’s the full name – will have five floors spread over 36,000 sq ft, with women taking care of the mall management and the administration. All the staff too shall be women.

“The shops would also cater to women’s requirements,” Ramsy says. There will be a health club, a food court, spas, cosmetic jewellery shops, entrepreneurship training centre, women’s cooperative bank and so on.

“The idea is an extension of the Kudumbashree bazaars that we wish to start everywhere,” Ramsy adds.

It is otherwise all small time sales at festival time and nothing much the rest of the year, says Vijaya, a Kudumbashree worker who is the secretary in charge of a ten member unit for the mall.

“After the melas at Onam or Christmas or Vishu, these women who sell small products wrap up shop and wait till the next fest to sell something. There was the need for a more permanent arrangement so everyone would get a market,” she adds.

Vijaya introduces Prejisha and Shahitha, two women entrepreneurs who will be setting up stalls at the new mall. Prejisha is a fashion designer with a diploma and a degree who takes classes in fashion designing as guest lecturer and runs a small garment business from home.

“When the orders increased, my customers started suggesting that I start a shop. That’s when the mall happened. I will be opening a boutique there. That it will be run totally by women would make it much easier, I am sure. And at the centre of the city. They are also renting it to me for a small amount,” Prejisha says.

For Shahitha, it’s all Kozhikode snacks and food. She names unnakkaya and pazham nirachathu (both sweets) and puthiyapila kozhi (chicken dish) among many special dishes that’s made her stall a favourite at Kudumbashree fests in other parts of the state.

“People in Thiruvananthapuram love Malabar food. They’d ask me to start a shop there,” she says.

She was running a catering service from home till one day she saw an ad for a Mathrubhumi fest and asked if she could sell her Malabar food there. They tasted her unnakkaya and loved it. Now for the same fest, she wins prizes for her dishes, Shahitha says proudly.

She is happy that her food stall is going to be part of the mall, and that Kudumbashree is bringing all these talented women under one umbrella.

Also read: Kerala’s magic realist and political commentator: Why everyone should read OV Vijayan

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