Artisans are not mere ornaments of tourism or a cottage industry of Etsy sellers. The artisan sector is a thriving, powerful force in the global economy - especially in countries with developing economies. In fact, if the artisan sector were a country, it would already be equal to the fourth-largest economy in the world, with the fourth-largest workforce, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.
In India alone, seven million artisans make a living using traditional skills and techniques to create handmade products. Many artisans are from rural or indigenous backgrounds and the vast majority of them are women.
For many women in these regions, childcare is the priority. Rather than joining the workforce women are at home looking after and raising the kids. The handcraft trade suits these women because the hours can be very flexible, and there’s rarely need for cumbersome specialist machinery to create. So workers can work from home, often only needing visit the workshops to collect supplies and have final products checked before shipping.
WOMEN ARE THE KEY TO FIXING GLOBAL POVERTY
It’s a bold statement, but there’s plenty of research to stand by the idea. So how does switching your purchasing preferences help lift millions out of poverty? Well, when you look into the artisan sector one thing will strike you fast. It’s mostly women. According to the UN, women comprise 60-70% of those living in poverty worldwide and make up the majority of the artisan sector.
When women are able to earn an income they invest in their children. They bring their friends into the business, become empowered leaders and create more prosperous communities. This is not trickle-down economics - it is the wholesale empowerment of half the human race. When women have an income, and can make decisions for themselves, the floor of everything in that village, not just poverty, but health and education, will rise.
Our production partners, Sasha & Nepal’s Finest, have experienced many stories of women being transformative in their communities. As one brave women begins work, then spreads the work across many households the entire village is transformed.
One women we met was Shabana, a seamstress in West Bengal.
“I went to Sasha alone. So when more orders started coming in , I needed more helping hands. I started giving work to people at their home. I used to cut pieces at home, and told the girls that they are just wasting time sitting idle at home, at least they would get pocket money out of this.”
It doesn’t take long for their voices to be heard - husbands and families pay attention as the new income elevates their position.
“There is this one girl in our group, previously her brother was asked to make decisions, ever since she has started working, her opinion is also listened to”.
FAIR TRADE MEANS FAIR LABOR
Transformative change is only possible due to fair trade practices. Fair Trade is a system of exchange that honors producers, communities, consumers, and the environment. It is a model for the global economy rooted in people-to-people connections, justice, and sustainability. Businesses such as our retail partner, Ten Thousand Villages, pioneered this model of connecting consumers to producers and supporting worker-owned co-ops.
Fair Trade labor practices ensure that wages and working conditions are equitable for all workers. These guidelines ensure female workers are treating the same as their male counterparts.
A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR ALL
“I am happy to see the progress of the office and for our workers. We work to be self-sufficient. We can do our job to take care of ourselves.”
Subhadra, and women like her, aren’t the only ones benefiting from projects like the Jurassic World x Accompany collection. Many of the artisans we met are mothers and told us firsthand that a sustainable income means they can secure an education for their children. While they’re building wealth they ensuring the next generation have the tools, skills, knowledge and resources to be successful.
Discover the wonderful work of our women artisans: