Craft, is basically a hobby, used as a tool by the men and women to make the world identify their cultures and existence.
The spaces we call home and the workplace are but, holistic units defining the foundations of civilisation. In the process, it is always delightful to observe a woman become an agent of change when she chooses to step outside of her house, and participate in the activity, most commonly termed as, trade. Working with RangSutra made me realise that, when a hobby is taken as the base reality of extending skill and livelihood, the community is more interested to learn as it is in a language which is already known.
There are generations of weavers, dyers and craftsmen for whom, the ‘craft’ was first an ‘art’ passed on to them, lovingly by their grandparents and parents. There are few who learn this art simply because they are best friends with the girl whose grandmother taught her how to make the crochet top. The persons grew together in a community and had tea, while their children practiced their home works from their S.U.P.W. class.
For the girls who were denied participation in the schooling system, their needle works became their sole escape into creativity. A space where they could express themselves through their needles and thread. RangSutra is a window for many such women, who stay indoors and behind veils. The women come together at a centre where they have to sign their daily attendance, a space where they are pushed to think about bringing a change in themselves and their families through better health and fair pay. The centre is a ‘learning space’ where the women are introduced to right angles, circles made with stencils and quality checks, done with precaution.
The activities involve use of pens and pencils, erasers and sharpeners to perfect the cutting of the drape, signing the challans for the customers, keeping a track of inventory, ensuring quality check and delivering finished goods as per the production schedules. The entire process focusses on making the women better equipped to handle the responsibilities of a successful craft manager. Craft managers are also responsible for , adherence to policies such as regulation and control of child labour, fighting gender discrimination and promoting a healthy work culture at the village based centre. Working at the centre, along the lines of the carefully developed work formats of RangSutra, helps develop a craft manager’s mathematical, entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
Above: Karimatji with her group.
RangSutra is witness to the reality of women became first generation earners, in their family, and the community. One of the newest women to join this group is Karitmatji from Bhadla, Bap tehsil, Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She leads, guides and assist the group of women in her village, on the production orders and leads by example for the many women in her village to step out and speak the language of maths for a better life.
- By, Meghna Chatterji