स्वावलंबन / Self-reliance: A programme in overview

Self-reliance (Hindi: स्वावलंबन/swavlamban) lies at the heart of the SEWA movement and is the foundation on which the Swavlamban programme was built. Through this three year programme launched in 2019 (in partnership with HSBC), we are offering support to Gujarat’s women artisans. Our journey with artisan communities dates back to the early 80s when we conducted a socio-economic survey of block printing women artisans in Chippawad (block printing) communities of Ahmedabad.

In the survey, it was revealed that most artisans worked for middle agents and were offered meagre piece-rates for their work. We realised that women artisans, while skilled in a wide variety of handicraft practises, often lack the opportunities and the resources to bring their products to the market and sustain themselves in competitive market spaces.

“I am only involved in processing, not with the sales,” says Miriyamben, a bandhani artisan from Dhamadka, Kutch. Often, the artisan’s skills are self-taught or passed down from generations of women artisans before them.

We launched the Swavlamban programme with the goal of supporting 200 women artisans by way of facilitating skill upgradation and enabling market linkages. During the first two years of the three-year programme, we have organised various activities for women artisans including – but not limited to – training, consumer sensitisation, new design development and marketing support.

Alongside these activities, SEWA Cooperative Federation has also conducted baseline surveys and midline surveys in various parts of Gujarat to identify more specific areas where we could intervene to offer appropriate support to women artisans. We also provided online and offline market linkage support to the artisans, inputs on designs, and consumer sensitisation to handmade products.

This post was written by Aneri, an intern with SEWA Cooperative Federation. To know more about how you can get involved with our work, click here.

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