Today I would like to talk to you about out Indian artisans. In India, poverty imposes an oppressive weight, especially in the rural areas where almost three out of four Indians and 77 percent of the Indian poor live. Although poverty has been reduced during the past four decades, it remains painfully high. In a place of such extreme poverty, women are often overlooked and marginalized, living a life of low wages and discrimination. But now, through Fair Trade, many of these women are empowered to be self-reliant, something that is sometimes unheard of in their villages! By making these products for Trades of Hope, they are stepping out from the thinking that women have no value. They are now able to take care of themselves and are respected in their villages, giving them hope for their future!
Many of the Indian artisans focus on providing education for the neediest children in their community. They have worked hard to raise enough funds to establish a school so that parents in their poor community won’t have to choose between working to provide basic needs for their families or sending their children to school. The poverty cycle in India continues primarily because of the lack of proper education. Most schools are not free in India and many cannot afford to send their children to school. Girls are seen as a burden on their families as they don’t work outside of the home, so they are especially overlooked. Many children, therefore, grow up without the ability to read and write. One of our groups has given work to a multitude of women without sacrificing their desire for their children to have a bright and promising future.
Another group of Artisans was formed because many young unmarried women in remote areas of India were not allowed to leave their impoverished villages for work because of the conservative mindset. If they left, they often ended up in sweatshops or in the sex trade. Now through Fairtrade these women are empowered to be self-reliant, something unheard of in their villages. By making scarves, they are stepping away from the thinking that women have no value and cannot take care of themselves. Now they are respected in their villages.