Women Artisans:Skills and Livelihood Project
CSR Initiative by:Dalmia Bharat Foundation
Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh - Moonj Project
Sitapur, a small district in Uttar Pradesh is home to talented women artisans. Traditionally, they work with dried Moonj grass, which grows in abundance along the seasonal ponds found in this area and use it to create attractive utility and decorative products that are handcrafted with expertise.
This native craft of Moonj grass basketry has been passed down over generations. Unfortunately, the skills these women artisans exhibit remain unappreciated mainly on account of changing consumer preferences, having evolved from traditional designs to a more modernistic outlook. This, coupled with scarce monetary backing and the inability to provide well for their families, pushes them to look for alternative sources of income and let go of their ancestral legacy. Since Sitapur has not witnessed any major spurt in industrialization, agriculture remains the main source of income for its people, which mainly employs the men folk leaving the women of this district idle for most of the year. Despite the fact that these women are capable of creating masterpieces, they are losing the motivation to continue with their proficiency because of dwindling financial resources.
Mon Ami Foundation stepped in to provide the women artisans with much-needed design intervention, scaling-up and market linkages. The artisans were taught the importance of quality and production-oriented work where replication of designs was explained and implemented over several months. They are also made aware of colors and patterns and how the end-user likes to use their handcrafted products. With the intent to empower these women artisans and provide a structure that supports them economically, Mon Ami Foundation creates a meaningful impact on their livelihood wherein they can continue practicing their traditional craft in a sustainable manner.
- With the help of support provided by the Dalmia Bharat Foundation, the team was able to bring together 100+ women artisans from Sitapur and introduce them to modern designs and forms that could easily match up to international standards.
- At the end of their training period, these women artisans put together an entire range of products inspired by the Sarayan river, which flows through this district and named it “The Sarayan Collection”.
- Their entire range was put up on a dedicated website www.sarayancraft.com that was made exclusively for the women artisans of Sitapur. The website not only displays all the exquisite items that they made as a part of this project, but it also speaks about their aspirations and expectations that they have related to this heritage craft that they have been practicing. To reach out far and wide, their products were also showcased in different fairs and exhibitions across different cities.
- More than 20+ products in different sizes, colours and patterns form a part of the Sarayan collection, that includes wall décor items, ethnic boxes, planter baskets, trivets and much more. Each of these exquisitely handcrafted products are ideal for upscale markets and depicts the sheer brilliance of this age-old art form, which these women artisans are extremely proud of.