A Time for Celebration

A Time for celebration

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A Time for Celebration

Rani is a member of a livelihood collective in Ambur, Tamil Nadu. Photo Credit: Traidcraft India

As another ‘women’s day’ dawns upon us one might ask, what do we truly have to celebrate? While women constitute a sizable proportion of the global workforce, many continue to remain invisible. They face the double burden of unpaid care work and have limited opportunities for decent paid work. The vast majority of India’s women workers, 95 percent (195 million), are employed in the informal sector[1]. Across the globe women earn lower wages, work in poorer conditions and are very poorly represented in policy forums that have the potential to influence change. And yet, across all our projects, women have demonstrated immense resilience and agency to subtly but surely challenge the unequal power dynamics that govern their lives.

In Ambur, Tamil Nadu, a collaborative project with Marks & Spencer and Farida Shoes gives us a glimpse into the everyday struggles of women in the leather industry. To address these challenges these women have come together to organise themselves into a livelihood collective to ensure they have a sustainable source of income. When Nargis[2] a 55-year-old member of the collective remarks, ‘I am glad that I have work and I don’t need to depend on anybody to feed me in my old age’, she is asserting her right to economic independence. 

In rural Haryana, a UNDP supported project addresses the challenges faced by rural micro-entrepreneurs. Under the project women have taken on leadership positions as ‘biz-sakhis’ to support other women to start and improve their micro-enterprises. These rural women micro-entrepreneurs demonstrate an eagerness to learn and engage with the world of business, traditionally thought to be an all-male bastion. 

The Hidden Homeworkers project, supported by the European Union, in collaboration with Home Net South Asia and Home Workers Worldwide, demonstrates the immensely challenging circumstances that homeworkers contend with. Across India, Nepal and Pakistan, women homeworkers are coming together to claim social entitlements and demand better wages and working conditions. Revathy[1], a homeworker under the project demands, ‘we want formal recognition from the government. We want direct contact with factory owners, and we want to receive a fixed minimum wage”. Through collectivising and building capacity women in these contexts have chosen to speak -up and empower themselves.  

However, this journey towards empowerment is far from over. This became clear last year as the Covid-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted women who were faced with drastically reduced work and incomes. The lockdown measures forced small businesses to pause operations and the vast number of women in the informal sector had to manage without access to social entitlements or interim remuneration from their employers. To make matters worse, women were burdened with added domestic and care giving responsibilities during this time. It became clear that the impacts of the pandemic were felt much more severely by women.

But here too, we witnessed immense courage in the face of adversity. Our partner teams and field staff for these projects, who are predominantly women, continued to work despite challenging circumstances. Many put themselves at risk to distribute relief to worker communities. On the ground, these women negotiated the increased risks of virus transmission, unavailability of public transport, added domestic responsibilities and grappled with an uncertain future. Together with their families and communities they have kept hope alive. 

At Traidcraft we recognise the need to support these activities We believe that supporting women to become more empowered in their work has the potential to contribute to greater equality in other realms of life as well. And so, today, let us celebrate the immense courage and resilience women bring to their lives, to fight unequal power dynamics and ultimately create a better world for all of us. 

[1] Name changed

[1] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/in/Documents/about-deloitte/UNGCNI_black_final%20v6%20web%20high%20res.pdf

[2] Name changed

Under the Hidden Homeworkers Project women received dry rations during the lockdown. Photo Credit: SAVE, Tiruppur
women micro-entrepreneur running a tailoring business supported under the UNDP Project for rural micro-entrepreneurs

Pawan Kashyap

Business Associate

Pawan works at Traidcraft India as Business Associate. He is a development professional with 4 years’ experience of working on livelihood having expertise in sustainable agriculture supply chain, social enterprise development & Women, economic empowerment.

He is an MBA in Rural Management from Xavier Institute of Social Service (Rural Marketing as specialized subject). Previously he has work with BIRSA, a social organization on Forest Rights, Livelihood & Sustainable agriculture in Jharkhand

Subodh Kumar

Sr. Business Associate

Subodh works at Traidcraft India as a Sr. Business Associate. He is a young development professional with 6 years of experience. Subodh is an Agriculture graduate from Allahabad Agriculture Institute, Allahabad, Master’s in Development Management from Tata Dhan Academy, Madurai and Post Graduate Certificate in International Organization Management from the University of Geneva. Prior to joining Traidcraft, Subodh has worked with TechnoServe India and Aga Khan Rural Support Program India. Subodh holds expertise in Institution building, capacity building, sustainable agriculture, value-chain development, and market linkages of the various agriculture crops. He has worked in various states including Gujarat, Maharashtra, MP, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha.

Priyashri Mani

Associate Consultant

Priyashri Mani is the Associate Consultant (Women’s Economic Empowerment) in Traidcraft India. She has 10 years of experience in the development sector working with marginalised communities in the areas of livelihood, women’s empowerment, and indigenous people’s rights. She has a Masters’ degree in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) University of Sussex, UK and a Bachelors’ (Hons) in Sociology from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi University.

Jyoti Prakash

Market Engagement Expert

Jyoti Prakash works with Traidcraft as Market Engagement Expert and has more than 15 years of experience in strategy formulation, implementation and management of “Livelihoods, Enterprise development & Market Engagement” projects. His professional strengths include conceptualising and facilitating implementation of innovative strategies and methodologies in the areas of Livelihoods , Enterprise promotion, Market Engagement, Value Chain Development, Institution Building and Development Research.

Rohan Preece

Manager – Business and Human Rights

Rohan Preece is the Manager – Business and Human Rights at Traidcraft India. He has around 15 years of experience across private sector, government and third sector contexts in India, including work with youth, in India and the UK. He has worked on gender-related monitoring and evaluation and documentation assignments for a range of organisations including Save the Children India and, while at Praxis-Institute for Participatory Practices. In his work with Partners in Change, he led a number of projects on business and human rights and corporate responsibility. His work contributed to the establishment of Fair Finance India, a civil society coalition that engages constructively with the financial sector. He has experience of addressing human rights issues in factory settings and in supply chain settings in India and of working with grassroots organisations. His sectoral engagement experience in India encompasses the financial sector, textiles and apparels, footwear and electronics. He holds a MA (Hons) degree from the University of Cambridge and a University of London MA in education and international development.

Dipankar Sengupta

Supply chain expert

Dipankar Sengupta is the supply chain expert at Traidcraft and has a PGDABM (Post Graduate Diploma in Agribusiness Management) from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a PGDRD (Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development) from Xavier Institute of Social Service. Before joining Traidcraft he worked with Rallis India where he focused on creating agri-solutions. His work experience includes assignments at Bayer CropScience Limited and Tata Chemicals.

Maveen Pereira

Director programme

Maveen Pereira has over 35 years of development experience working at different levels from grassroots to senior management.  As the Director programme, Traidcraft Exchange, she leads strategic planning, program development and management across South Asia and East Africa. Having worked directly with workers, small producers, she has a sound knowledge of the challenges faced by them in their bid to access markets sustainably.  She helped launch the first Fair Trade label in India – Shop for Change – using a multi-stakeholder approach. Prior to joining Traidcraft, she was faculty in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She is a graduate from TISS and holds a PhD in Sociology from University of Mumbai.