Artisan Stories: Celebrating International Women’s Day & Annual Artisan’s Day

Here’s the update from India. It was a month of celebrations, with two annual celebrations happening in March.

March 8, 2010: International Women’s Day
130 participants got together to observe International Women’s Day. The artisans sang a song together to start the day, which became a powerful day for the women to celebrate each other and learn about women’s rights in India today.

Suchitra Kamble, a lawyer, talked about the rights given to women by the Indian Constitution to protect from exploitation or violence. Suchitra clarified laws, and went into specifics of how the courts work and the procedure that victims of violence should follow. The women in the audience were not afraid to ask questions, and discuss the reality of bringing laws into practice: they brought up problems concerning how to protect themselves from violence, the role of the police and police women, and how to lodge a complaint.

Pushpika Freitas, president of MarketPlace, also addressed the audience as her visit to India coincided with International Women’s Day. It was an opportunity to express her admiration for the women who courageously and confidently fought against violence towards women. Pushpika encouraged everyone to share these facts with their neighborhoods and families so they could also learn to protect themselves.

All the women brought small gifts like a rose, hair clip, bindis, etc. At the conclusion of the day Pooja and Hetel, SHARE coordinators, divided everyone into different groups named after fruits (mango, watermelon, papaya and chikoo) that exchanged gifts and greetings with one another. SHARE team members also distributed greeting cards and water bottles as gifts for all participants. The artisans finished up the celebration with a vote of thanks for a worthwhile and enjoyable day.

March 18, 2010: Artisans’ Day
121 artisans gathered to celebrate MarketPlace’s annual Artisans’ Day, a day dedicated to recreation and to communication between the artisan groups. Once again Pooja Nimkar, SHARE Project Coordinator, had the artisans start things off with a song. They sang “Baharon Phool Barsao,” a popular film song that everyone knew the words to, as a welcome to all participants and guests (click the link to see the full film clip of the song!). Afterwards, Pooja gave all of the artisans a plant to symbolize the idea that the women should blossom as a plant.

Then, group leaders from the Social Action group, Global Dialog group, and Armaan Club put on performances. The first group performed a comedic song and dance they had created which depicted the people and activities of SHARE-MarketPlace in a lighthearted way. The second group presented a humorous skit about quality checking and sample making at the MarketPlace office.

Finally, the third group put on a play about traveling on the local trains and the problems faced. It concerned a real-life incident in which some of the artisans had mistakenly boarded the first-class compartments with second class tickets. They were nabbed by the Ticket Collector, but tried to plead their case. The other members of the group helped prevent them from being taken to the police station. This experience illustrated group unity – and also has become a favorite and oft-told tale. All three performances were greatly enjoyed by all.

The work of MarketPlace: Handwork of India spans the oceans. For each MarketPlace product you wear, or each donation you make, you are making a connection to 480 women artisans in India. We strive to help our customers and partners understand that connection by telling stories from India. Please send comments on what you’d like to hear!

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