Celebrating Womanhood Stitch by Stitch


She’s turning another page,
To grow wings and fly high
Wise to judge all vices
Long waged battles with society locks doors to prejudicesWomen trained as Kani weavers in the valley of Jammu & Kashmir

Pure Elegance has time and again, acknowledged the dedicated efforts of every woman who laboriously invest themselves to feed their family, raise their kids, instill in them moral values and ethics, become financially independent and most importantly to take important decisions all by themselves. We are celebrating every such woman who has been lost in the chaos of the money churning machine with high hopes and dreams to fulfill their basic needs. One such clan of women is that of women artisans who ceaselessly work day and night to produce one half of the world’s food supply while contributing to two-thirds of the world’s cumulative working population. These are the statistic reports by United Nations. However, earning the world’s one-tenth gross income, a woman is always on the receiving end of violence and dominance from their male counterpart. Defying the odds every day, a woman battles the injustices and breaks away the stereotype thereby playing the game by her rules. The preconceived notion that holds women to be the primary caretakers and housemakers with no financial authority and decision-making in the family, is today making us so proud.

Women weavers showcasing their handloom stitch together

Yes, we’re talking about the women artisans who play a quintessential role in formulating each textile and blending it uniquely to give it a personalized touch. The skills that they harbinger from their mothers of other women indulged in producing handicrafts in the family are weaving by the day and nurturing kids by night. Several women entrepreneurs who are also involved in uplifting and reviving the lost handloom art by employing women artisans and workers to encourage women empowerment are indeed the talk of the town yet those who sit on the corner quietly sewing every thread is the real hero. We can undoubtedly say that these skilled artisans are changing their life, one woman at a time.

Women Weave is a charitable trust that works with designers all over the country to manufacture bespoke accessories which are woven and crafted by women artisans living in the Central India. It is often said that without the support of women weavers, handloom industry shall die for the women bring about the serenity to the silhouette, untangle the threads, wind the bobbins and smoothen the finished fabric. It is indeed not a gender-specific work, it requires skills and craftsmanship of both the men and women to weave a fabric perfectly. While the women weavers are largely ignored and not acknowledged for their work, let’s talk about their part of the story throughout.

Bengal Rural Women at SHE Kantha working

One such organization tucked in the vintage land of India – Koklatta by the name SHE Kantha or Self-Help Enterprise Kantha led by a strong-headed woman Shamlu Dudeja. She believed in restoring the unique art of Kantha by working closely with Kantha embroiderers to achieve the objective of “Dwar pe Roti” campaign. The women weavers who craft the authentic Kantha textiles in West Bengal are in awe witnessing support from neighbouring communities, family and society in general. The graceful and popular Kantha textiles are quite a rage given the increase in customer base and appreciation received by a plethora of experts and designers have instilled in women artisans a sense of dignity. It is not just limited to the financial independence and the authority to take bold financial decisions which was believed to be owned by males in this chauvinist, patriarchal society. Women have successfully garnered acceptance and respect in their social milieu and that is what embarks on their breakthrough journey.

Woman untangling threads of weaves

There are several organizations working to and fro to promote the livelihood of women throughout the country and beyond. We, at Pure Elegance, realize the impeccable efforts and undying determination to defeat the obstacles and come out victorious in the glorious time period.

The Chandi Maati womenfolk in the Himalayan are the flag bearers of feminism, the wave of women empowerment hit the remote villages of Kafura, Satoli and Chhatola along with a few neighbouring townships when the farmers were unable to fetch enough money to survive and sustain their livelihood. And the savings were somehow splurged on illegal sources and pleasures like gambling, alcohol which resulted in domestic violence and similar abuse against their wives. That’s when Deepa Pathak resolved to employ women weavers not just to make them independent but educate the various nuances of our societal norms. Today, women weavers earn respect and money besides being the sole inspiration in the interiors for little girls.

Rural women in Bengal sewing at SHE Kantha organization

Not just producing and weaving muslin, at Chandi Maati, women weavers share a special bond of sisterhood withstanding one another in times of sorrow, despair and share dreams, joy, and enlightenment to a better India.

"Patching lives, Quilting joys"- the tagline perfectly sums up the essence of Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti operational in the meandering meadows of Himalayan beauty. The organization endeavors to empower rural women through skill training and entrepreneurship. Crafting exquisite quilted home textiles, these women earn dignity, respect and their livelihood. In order to instill in them greater values of self-esteem and self-confidence, Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti has made a difference in the lives of about 35 women till today and continues to serve the social welfare. 

Woman smiling while weaving

This exception wave of disruption is extraordinary and infectious as the women are no longer "asking" for it, they are owning their part and justifying their role in all possible ways. Women artisans are just a glimpse of what India is endowing towards the gender-bias issues. We only hope to see, raise and be such strong, fierce, bold and independent woman in all specters of life. 

Do you know of any such proactive organization working towards uplifting of the women clan in skill development or handloom sector? Come, share your stories with us in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!

 

Pure Elegance