October 25, 2021

Why Prioritize Women Artisans?

By Pukhraj Ranjan
Why Prioritize Women Artisans?

Recently on a sourcing trip to Kaladera village in Jaipur district, a small community of 2000+ households and 13000+ people, we met the artisan family of Kailash Patwa. ‘Patwa’ derived from the Hindi word ‘pat’ means silk and people involved in the silk and cotton thread work are called ‘Patwa’.

Patwas are farmers by profession and are jewelry makers by caste. Kailash ji and his family are the custodians of the Patwa Thread Craft, and for the last three decades have turned this family heritage into a source of income.

Even though Kailashji is renowned within the Indian handicraft community, I was amazed to see the “real makers” behind the Patwa Thread Craft.

Parbati Devi

 Meet Parbati Devi, the oldest member of the Patwa family and the leader of an ALL WOMEN TEAM that makes our beautiful Patwa anklets, bracelets, and other handcrafted thread jewelry.

I was told by Kailash ji’s elder son, Ajay, that his and his father’s role is limited to going to exhibitions in the cities as it is not a common occurrence for women from small villages in Rajasthan to go out of their villages, let alone homes 

Ladies of the house, like the 80-year-old Parbati Devi, are the creators of our new collection of anklets, bracelets, and chokers. This full women team comprises ladies from Kailash ji’s family and also from some of the neighbouring homes. Each woman is given the freedom to work from home (yes, this was their reality even pre-COVID!), can come to Kailash ji’s house if they need raw materials and are paid for each piece that they create. This way of operations was collectively decided by the women as they wished to prioritize home duties before they came to “work” and wanted the freedom to make more and get paid for it, whenever possible.
 
       

 

Often the women come together to their “office” - a beautiful open room in a heritage, blue Chuna/Lime home. They spend a 4-5 hours singing, chatting about daily lives and spinning resham threads into beautiful jewelry, with the help of happy conversations and a wooden stick.

As I left their home, after a good 6 hours with my bag full of handcrafted goodness and belly full of food, I wondered what creating sustainable livelihoods for craftspeople really means.

What role do women play in this sector of more than 7 million regional artisans? And where do social businesses like ours stand?

A new report, Creative Manufacturing and Handmade: A Sector Whose Time Has Come, by Trade+Impact and Powered by People & funded by MasterCard Foundation, calls out the lack of investment, digitalization, access to business finance and global markets, as the biggest barriers for CMH sector’s growth.

Even though the creative manufacturing and handmade (CMH) sector is projected to grow by 20% each year reaching $1 trillion by 2024, the potential for this to be a vehicle for positive economic, social and environmental impact, is yet to be uncovered. (Handicrafts Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2018-2023, Research and Markets, ltd., June 2018)

So this Women’s Day, we champion women artisans, the real Sheroes of the CMH sector. As we go along, we commit to bringing their voices & crafts to the forefront, giving them access to the global markets, and bringing sustained livelihoods to their communities. Locally, we will continue to embrace their catalytic role in economic empowerment and community development.

This year, we invite you to come along on this journey as we continue to work and build sustainable partnerships with Aftertaste a women social enterprise from Mumbai, and welcome the Patwa Women of Kaladera village and the Mahashakti Seva Kendra from Bhopal into our artisan family! More on that soon..

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