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Empowering women

Baishali Adak, Nov 7, 2012, DHNS
handicraft Women artisans are displaying their wares at the Mahila Haat.

Women artisans and connoisseurs of handicrafts, handwoven clothes and handmade jewellery have a new destination in Delhi now. After a string of Dilli Haats at INA, Pitampura and Janakpuri, and a number of seasonal exhibitions at Pragati Maidan, emporiums etc., we now have a Mahila Haat specifically for women artisans.

This beautiful haat, located above a multi-level parking lot on Asaf Ali Road, sells everything from clothes with ethnic embroideries, jewellery from different regions, accessories, home decorations, toys to kitchen furnishings. No wonder, women customers are as happy as the women artisans.

At the moment, the haat has 30 stalls manned by women artisans brought in by NGOs and SHGs from across the country. These women are most happy to gain a new avenue of employment.

Sunil Sharma, from Jyoti Women and Child Development Society, is supervising 16 artisans brought in from all over India. “The authorities have taken a very good step by establishing this Mahila Haat. We do have three Dilli Haats but then there are thousands waiting to showcase their products. Women artisans, especially lose out as they have little knowledge of the lottery system through which stalls are granted at the haats.
Here, they have better chances of getting stalls, being women.”

Najima Khatoun of Chandni Chowk, who has a stall of embroidered and embellished clothes and bags here, adds, “I appreciate the thought which has gone behind the location of this haat. Old Delhi has so many women artisans from the Muslim community who do zari and zardosi work. However, our families being conservative, we are not allowed to go far to sell our wares. Businessmen purchase these goods from us at low prices and sell them at exorbitant rates in the open market.”

“Now that we are selling these products by ourselves, we are earning much more and feel economically and socially empowered.”

Artisans from other states are equally happy. Razia Mallik of Nadia, West Bengal, selling traditional Kantha garments here, says, “I like the fact that this haat is close to the Old and New Delhi Railway Stations and ISBT. We can commute easily from our native places to the haat. Accommodation is also cheap in Old Delhi.”

“I also see many foreigners, who have come to see the monuments of Old Delhi, stopping by this haat. We are all hopeful that this crowd will only increase in time to come.”

One such foreigner Alicia Vetkins from US, who have seen admiring jewellery here, says, “I love the ethnic jewellery of India. I appreciate the hardwork and craft that goes into it and buy loads of it every time I am visiting Delhi. This Haat will be on my itinerary chart every time now.”

Pulkita Jain of Hansraj College, who bought embroidered bags, clothes and home decoration items here, adds, “This stuff is expensive as compared to machine made goods; but I would like to think that I am not just paying for a bag but also the good cause behind it. I feel happy to be a part of the mission that Mahila Haat represents.”


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