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Fair Trade Jewelry and Ethical Fashion

Give Kids in India Brighter Futures!

by | Artisans

Give Kids in India Brighter Futures! – (Read Time: 3 min.)

Mothers Working Together

About twenty-five miles outside the city of Kolkata, India, a small group of women – mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends – gather in a circle near a sunny window. Dressed in a bouquet of colorful and traditional garments, each woman holds a not-so-traditional scarf in her lap.

Bright and cheerful patterns fill the room, as women begin to stitch nature-inspired designs and tie hand-knotted fringe. Several of the women have young children playing beside them.

Most of the women learned their Artisan skills from their mothers and grandmothers. Traditionally, embroidery, dyeing, and creating brightly patterned fabrics are forms of artistic expression in India. Today, these traditional forms of artistic expression are opportunities for women to create better futures for their families.

What Difference Does 1 Scarf Make?

India is home to one-fourth of the world’s poorest people. Safe jobs with fair wages are scarce. Vulnerable women and children are often exploited in sweatshops with unsafe workspaces, unreasonable hours, and unfair pay. As fair-trade Artisans, these women are given safe workspaces, reasonable hours that allow them to spend time with their families and care for their homes and livestock, and wages that pay more than the average local wage.

Traditionally, poverty has forced many families in India to live together in crowded housing with extended family members. Many of these Artisans are now able to buy small homes for their families. Most of the women are married to husbands who earn enough money to care for their families’ basic needs. But for families living in rural communities, women’s incomes often determine whether or not their children can attend good schools and get a quality education.

How Are Children Impacted?

In India, the government provides “free” schooling through the age equivalent of American middle school. However, educational standards in these free schools are not necessarily grade-level equivalent to other countries. Many of these “free” schools still require students to pay fees for uniforms and other supplies. When students are unable to pay these fees, they’re often not allowed to attend school until their debts are paid in full. This creates “gaps” in education for so many children living in poverty – especially larger families with many children.

No Parent Should Have to Choose

Shefali, Manisha Scarf Artisan in India

Parents of large families must often choose which children will be able to continue going to school when they can’t afford to pay for all of their children’s school fees.

Traditionally, if parents must choose between which children to send to “high school”, they will usually choose to send the male siblings, hoping to equip them to provide for their future families.

Girls from large families in poorer communities often drop out of school early to help care for their homes and younger siblings.

What About “High School?”

Even if parents are able to manage their children’s school fees through the end of the free education that’s offered by the government, many can’t afford to continue their children’s education through the American equivalent of high school – which is not free in India. This limits their children’s ability to pursue professional careers with higher pay.

The Artisans who embroidery and hand tie tassels in this Artisan community in India are encouraged to bring their children who are too young to attend school.

This allows mothers a way to earn income without having to keep their older daughters home from school to care for their younger siblings or leave young children at home, alone.

In areas of extreme poverty, these choices are a daily reality.

We’re partnering to empower mothers in India to give their kids brighter futures.

How Can I Help?

The most effective and dignified way you can help women in India give their kids brighter futures is by empowering them through your purchases.

We’re partnering with Artisan communities in India to provide local women with opportunities to earn fair wages in safe workspaces. Every purchase of their artisanal scarves makes a direct impact on the Artisans who make them and their families. With the income they earn as fair-trade Artisans, mothers in India can invest in their children’s education without having to make choices that limit their daughters’ futures.

Every purchase of Trades of Hope scarves from India directly supports the women in India who made it for you.

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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.