Puriben Ahir - Artisan and shareholder of STFC
Several years ago, during severe and frequent droughts, Puriben had only two options -either to forcibly migrate or work at earth-digging sites. She doesn't remember, how much jewellery and precious family heirlooms (intricately hand-embroidered items of personal use), she had sold at throwaway prices, just to survive. With acute water shortage, no regular income and cattle adversely affected by harsh and fragile conditions, Puriben was unsure of her and her family's future.
"During the drought of 2000, SEWA's new approach in combating drought enabled the feeble, young mothers and even the physically challenged to survive. The drought proofing measures such as artisan work, based on traditional embroidery skills, made it possible for us to work from our homes and yet earn enough to feed our families, ensuring that our children attended school. We were not at the mercy of either the money-lenders or the pawn brokers. Neither were we 'forced' to dig pits under the hot sun."
She had traditional skills, but was unaware of their commercial value. She was making a living by digging pits, which neither provided drinking water, nor were conducive for water harvesting. Basic needs such as childcare, health and education were not a priority as survival itself was a challenge. Today after a decade and a half, Puriben's traditional embroidery skills are her family's main source of income. She is an elected member of SEWA's Executive Committee as well as an executive committee member of Banaskantha DWCRA Mahila SEWA Association (BDMSA) - a district level federation of over 65,000 women members like her.
Thousands of women like her are now economically self-reliant and more importantly - are empowered. They now have a choice and also have control over their own livelihood. They are free from the clutches of exploitative traders and middlemen. With a better network to sell their produce, they have more bargaining power and earn what they rightfully deserve.
Thousands of women like Kakuben and Puriben featured here are now economically self-reliant and more importantly - are empowered. They now have a choice and also have control over their own livelihood. They are free from the clutches of exploitative traders and middlemen. With a better network to sell their produce, they have more bargaining power and earn what they rightfully deserve.