While India has experienced rapid growth and development in the past years in many spheres, gender equity is not one of them. Women deal with numerous structural and social barriers preventing them from fully participating in the economy, especially in rural areas where almost three out of four Indians and 77 percent of the Indian poor live. One of these barriers is a real, constant threat of gender-based violence that discourages women from leaving their homes. This threat also leads some parents to marry off daughters before the legal age of 18 in an effort to protect them. However, the act of marriage does little to protect women as domestic violence is often a result and there is very little that can be done in the legal system to punish the abuser.
Trades of Hope has been able to partner with some women artisan groups in rural Indian villages. Through this Fair Trade partnership, many of these women are now finding their voice and are empowered to be self-reliant! By making these products for Trades of Hope, they are stepping out from the thinking that women have no value. Rather, they are respected for their contribution to their families.
Below is a picture of an artisan working on our Love Bowl.
As a result of our partnerships, some of the groups have been able to start schools for their villages and provide clean water to them. This is an example of how sustainable business has a ripple effect on raising living standards for whole communities.
The finished Love Bowl, pictured below, is symbolic of these women’s love of family and community. Every time I see one of these handmade bowls, I think of how it is inspired by their hope to create a better future for themselves and generations of Indian women to come.