Priya Scarf from India
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.
Leopard print wool and bright pink embroidery fill the room, as each woman begins stitching her Priya Scarf.
Several of the women have young children playing beside them. Most of them learned their embroidery skills from their mothers and grandmothers.
Traditionally, embroidery is a form of artistic expression in India. Today, it’s an opportunity for women to create better futures for their families.
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, the women’s incomes often determine whether or not their children can attend good schools and get a quality education.
Schools in India
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
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 cannot 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 our Priya Scarf 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 with Artisans in India to provide women with opportunities to earn fair wages in safe workspaces.
Every purchase of our Priya Scarf makes a direct impact on these Artisans and their families. With the income they earn as fair-trade Artisans, mothers can invest in their children’s education without having to make choices that limit their daughters’ futures.