Fair Trade Jewelry and Ethical Fashion

Breaking Social Barriers for Women in India

by | Artisans

Breaking Social Barriers for Women in India – (Read Time: 3 min.)

Every morning, along the streets of Jaipur, Artisans’ workshops are filled with busy and creative men of all ages. Most of these men hail from long legacies of master craftsmen skilled in ancient Artisan techniques – from block-printed scarves and ornate leather goods to jewelry made with intricate silver and gold designs and semi-precious stones.

Overcoming Cultural Discrimination

Famous for its Artisanal treasures, Jaipur is also a haven for unscrupulous sweatshops that prey on vulnerable men and women, especially Artisans. Home to one-fourth of the world’s poorest people, the job market in India is largely comprised of manual labor and factory jobs – many with unsafe workspaces and unfair pay. Lingering discrimination from many of India’s traditional cultures make it even more difficult for women to find safe dignified employment or pursue meaningful careers.

Babli, Rice Bead Necklace Artisan in India

Babli works with Rachna in this local workshop in India creating ethically made jewelry.

But in this workshop in Jaipur, women are welcomed and encouraged to explore their gifts and talents, to rise and pursue their dreams. Some of these women are Artisans who work alongside the men. They are treated with equal respect and given equal opportunities for creative expression. But Artisans aren’t the only women who benefit from busy fair-trade workshops. Thriving fair-trade workshops also create career opportunities for women like Rachna to become business managers in a culture that has traditionally been male dominated.

Rachna’s Story of Hope

While financial struggles and discrimination force many young girls in India to drop out of school early, Rachna was fortunate enough to grow up in a family who valued education for girls.

Rachna’s father was a schoolteacher who made sure Rachna was able to complete her schooling. Soon after she graduated, Rachna’s family moved to Jaipur. In her search for work, she met the young owner of a fledgling Artisan workshop with a heart for giving people a chance to learn and grow.

Vivek, the workshop owner, came alongside Rachna and for eleven years, he encouraged, trained, and challenged her to rise to her full potential.

Rachna began her career at the workshop with only basic computer skills.

Today she manages the workshop’s entire production, merchandising, and design, and oversees all business transactions with local vendors.

Rachna is also the “point person” who coordinates with buyers from all over the world, and often attends gift fairs and trade shows where she assists Vivek in presenting Artisans’ designs to local and international buyers.

Paying It Forward

Grateful for their investment in her education, Rachna now shares a home with her parents and brother.

Her income helps provide a comfortable standard of living for her family.

Financially independent, she continues to save toward her dreams for her future and hopes to get married one day.

Grateful for every opportunity to learn and grow, Rachna continues to invest in “paying it forward” by expanding her knowledge of gemstones, designs, and Artisan techniques.

She hopes to continue to be an asset to the company who invested in her.

Rachna’s personal journey continues to be an inspiration to other women hoping to break social barriers and pursue careers in India’s traditionally male-dominated culture of Artisanal trades and business management. Her story is a constant reminder that fair-trade fashion is more than a trendy label. It’s an investment in the human value of the products we purchase. It’s an opportunity to create social change. It’s a choice to empower a woman to become her best self.

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Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas is an inspirational writer with a passion for helping women discover and celebrate their unique gifts and abilities. Kathy is part of the Communications Team at Trades of Hope focusing on Artisan advocacy.