Empowering Women & Minority Workers

November 23, 2016

All this week, we're giving thanks by lifting up just a few of the remarkable stories we receive from the partners and producers we work with from around the globe. We want you to know what kinds of impacts your purchases truly make. Today's post comes from Matr Boomie, who for over 10 years, has become a credible force in the fair-trade market by creating opportunities for women and minorities in India—a corner of the world not usually known for workers’ rights. 

The abridged post below was written by Manish Gupta, one of the founders of Matr Boomie, originally appearing on their All One Kin blog

Years ago, I remember asking a woman artisan what her dream was. She said she didn’t understand that question. She could not imagine life outside of her everyday reality.

India is a male dominated society, and the male members make most decisions regarding family/community matters. Women are tasked with the job of taking care of the household and children but rarely given the opportunity to express their opinion on important matters.

In low-income communities, the bread-earner of the family draws a big say. One of the most important impacts of fair trade on women artisans is that these women, who in many cases have learned these art forms from their mothers and grandmothers as a way to embellish their homes, are now suddenly able to make a living on their own by selling their crafts. Many women that Matr Boomie works with have made their first income by making our products. This is the first key step. Trading activities also force these women to travel and interact with larger society. This starts to give these women immense exposure and an understanding of their rights. They start to make independent decisions and start to feel confident as an individual. They start deciding how they want to use their income. These factors slowly allow them to build a vision for themselves, their family, and even their community.

The handcrafted jewelry and gifts you give come from empowered women like Maya—once a house maid—who now leads a women's collective in Jaipur; Kanta Ji, a paper craft artisan—uneducated and facing many challenges—proud now to be able to support herself through her work; and at 27 years young, Ankita, who has excelled and become a batik cutting master. The eagerness to learn and grow has opened many doors for these three women and many like them who work with Matr Boomie

Ankita, master artisan. Photo courtesy Matr Boomie.

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