“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women, which is intertwined with respect for human rights. And when a woman participates in the economy, everyone benefits.”
India has come a long way in this aspect, since its independence. Women are now questioning the shackles of patriarchy and moving forward into the modern world along with their traditions intact. Situated in Kutch, Gujarat, is a village called Avadhnagar. The women there have consistently been the backbone of Vanaat; a handloom weaving process. The men are in charge of the weaving, while the women do the pre and post weaving processes, which includes preparing the raw material to be weaved and polishing them with tassels and embroidery.
Women have been kept in purdah for way too long. Despite being the backbone of this society, their work has been unrecognized and unpaid for decades, due to the patriarchal nature of society. In the past, weaving and operating the loom by a woman was frowned upon. This has however changed in recent times and women have started contributing to and chasing trends in the weaving sector and education, thereby changing the way the world sees them.
Women of the Kutch area are now aspiring to weave independently and are confidently asserting their aspirations. While exploring plastic weaving as a source of livelihood, they are taking charge of their lives. Plastic Weaving has been introduced by a Kutch based innovation group ‘Khamir’. This group aims at reducing the ecological impact of plastic waste and creates an incentive for women to develop their weaving skills.
Today, plastic weaving is practiced by women from Avadhnagar and other nearby villages, resulting in a growth of women self-help groups with better access to micro-credits. A large number of women are even providing jobs to other women from the community.
As a result:
This new energy and perspective are visible in their designs, which has led to the transformation of Vanaat. ‘Khamir’ has created new avenues for women are able to support their families through weaving. This increasing sense of pride and confidence in women is reflected in the political and social scenarios as well. They are able to understand the requirements better and provide better solutions to improve village governance and infrastructure.
Times have changed and with that, it is essential to change our mindsets too. Women are now equally contributing to the economy of India. They have become assertive of their basic rights to education, lifestyle, and careers options. With persistent efforts, they believe that the patriarchal nature of the ‘Vankar’ community can be undone and abolished.