Meet The Artisans

ELA BHATT

Fondly known as the 'gentle revolutionist', Ela Bhatt has dedicated her life to improving the lives of India's poorest, most oppressed women workers. She is the most well-known and prominent women rights activist in India and has founded and pioneered Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) since 1972. Over the years, SEWA has not only improved lives, but has also sustained the livelihoods of thousands of women workers. "Let us celebrate the skilled hands of India's crafts workers. They are the salt that flavour the culture of our country. Our support brings economic, social, and political power into the hands of people at the very grassroots. Handicrafts are not a thing of the past—they are our future."

reema nanavaty

She leads Self Employed Women's Association's (SEWA) economic and rural development activities. Her work reaches out to seventeen million women and their families across India. And she has pioneered the revival, restoration and innovation of rural livelihoods from the district to global level since 1989. Reema Nanavaty is recognized in both India and the neighbouring countries as a champion, who enables the amazing skills of underprivileged women reach the markets they deserve. "The 15,000 women, all members of SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre, from the deserts of Banaskantha possess the rich embroidery tradition. The lives of these women's families grow on the threads with which these women embroider."

bhachiben bhurabhai ahir

Dignified, graceful and full of life, Bhachiben from Vauva, Patan, the founding member of SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre, embodies all things beautiful. Over 80 years old, she has led a life filled with experiences as rich as the embroidery she has perfected. One of the most wonderful aspects of Bhachiben is that she not only passes down her precious craft through generations, but has also expanded its horizons to include SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre women members from other communities as well. Making both her and Ahir embroidery a legacy to be cherished and a means of livelihood. "I learnt the art of Ahir from my maasi when I was 12. I began by decorating homes and trousseaus in exchange for some vessels and other household goods. But, when I eventually understood the potential of this craft, when I became a member of SEWA's Trade Facilitation Centre, it became more than my livelihood. It became my life and my passion. It exhilarated me, set me free. And I want many, many more women to feel the way I do… experience economic freedom."

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