Women and Handicrafts: International Day of Rural Women

Women and Handicrafts: International Day of Rural Women
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The United Nations commemorates October 15 as International Day of Rural Women. UN Women, the body working towards gender equality, estimates rural women to account for over a quarter of the world’s population. The day celebrates the critical contribution of rural women in shaping our world. This year, the theme to celebrate the day is “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19”.
Some of the prospering industries in India such as pickle business and handicrafts have contributed to the success of indigenous industries with women at the forefront. According to Indian handicrafts census, 56.13 per cent of artisans are women. They are bringing about a change in the socio-economic status at the grassroots, while practising sustainability and conserving mother earth. Be it embroidery, natural dyes, spinning the loom or basketry from bamboo and cane, rural women in India are contributing towards changing the landscape of rural India in their own capacity. They are helping in making India a culturally rich country.
Let us look at some of the handicrafts which provide insights on how rural women are exercising a symbiotic relationship with culture, heritage and nature:

Kumaoni weaves from the Blue Mountains

Women weavers from Kumaon Valley are gaining popularity for heritage weaving — spinning looms and dyeing fabrics in beautiful colours for a more contemporary appeal. Because of the adverse weather conditions, they also produce blankets, quilts, shawls, silk stoles and mufflers.

Rice Jewelry from Tamil Nadu

A beautiful example of how women closely connect with nature to create culturally rich art is the rice jewelry from Tamil Nadu. Women in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu make exquisite ‘rice jewelry’ in addition to cultivating paddy.

Earthy screw pine crafts of Kerala

Women in Thrissur, Kerala, use screw pine leaves to weave beautiful products like mats and baskets to secure their livelihoods. The craft has been granted Geographical Indication status for its traditional significance.

Kutchi embroidery of Rabaris, Gujarat

Rabaris are nomadic herders. They live in the Kutch and Saurashtra regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The women can be seen wearing typical black blouses and skirts with heavy silver ornaments, which make for the important cultural symbols for these women. Rabaris are expert embroiders and artists who experiment with mirrors and rich colors such as fuchsia, red, and yellow.
These craft forms and weaves are a onfluence of sustainability, nature, cultural legacy and livelihoods. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development recognizes the rural women as principal agents for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal #5 which focuses on Gender Equality. We have clearly established the massive role women play in the handicrafts industry.
We, at Lal10, make efforts to give women a platform to express their artistic abilities. Lal10 is working with 1200 artisans, out of which 70% are women. These artisans are from 8 different states. Working with the women, we have been able to increase their wages by 25% and have made an impact on 6000 livelihoods overall. Lal10 has conducted 120 design interventions with women artisans in Odisha, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Manipur and Assam. We have achieved the results by digitizing the artisan community and imparting technical skills training to become micro-entrepreneurs. On this International Day of Rural Women, we commit to give the artisans the platform they deserve and with it, acknowledge, encourage and empower the women in the handicrafts community.