Handicrafts Galore: Women of Karoor and Shirasgaon, remote villages in Sirsi taluk, exhibited their handicrafts such as bags and baskets. Photos by Sandhya Hegde Almane A case of women’s empowerment at Sirsi

They imbibed the concept from the Shramika Abhivrudhi Sangh which has nurtured 400 craftswomen of Rajankatti, Makelmardi, Kadoli, Hunnur and Chikoppa. These craftswomen typically hailed from drought-prone regions and their efforts to seek alternative means of livelihood has turned out to be a huge boon for them, financially. Their efforts have made a mark in the global markets too, for their handicrafts have demand in countries like New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Prakruti Association, an NGO thought up the idea of training and conducting exhibitions to introduce self help groups of Sirsi region in Uttara Kannada district to such handmade crafts as fibre bags, jute bags, mats, cushion covers, dhakani wool bags etc. The craftswomen now earn their livelihoods by making high quality, naturally dyed, hand spun, hand woven bags from natural fibres such as jute, cotton, banana, mestha fibre, leather and blended fabrics. Now, an individual craftsperson in the group of SHGs earns anywhere between Rs 1,500 and Rs 6,000 per month and the Shramika Kala Collection produces as many 3,000 bags per month.
It was thanks to the efforts of Gopi Krisha from Shramika Kala Collection who conducted training modules for women in  that their success story unfolded.

Talent unsung
Eighty -year-old Ganapati Hegde keeps himself busy by weaving baskets and bowls made of black creepers which need minute movement of fingers apart from tonnes of creativity.

Women of Karoor and Shirasgaon, remote villages in Sirsi taluk exhibited sitting mats, brooms made out of wild date palms and non-timber forest produce like honey and garcinia gummigatta. They have set an example of how art can blossom even in the hands of the uneducated for they have showed that talent is not the quite the same as a formal education. 

The exhibition pointed out one important aspect; that originality is the essence of art. Artistic products created by women can infuse confidence among them and goes to show that women’s empowerment should begin from grass root level.

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