From bedding to jewellery, a variety of handicrafts made by women trained by the Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO) were showcased at an exhibition, Sartyoon Sang Craft Festival, at the Ocean Mall which ends today [Sunday].
SRSO is an NGO that operates in nine districts of upper Sindh, including Khairpur, Shikarpur, Kandhkot, Larkana and Sukkur, and aims to provide women with a platform through which they can earn a living.
“These women are the poorest of the lot,” said Sabir Hussain Osmani, one of the event organisers. “We are aiming to be the link between these women and the modern market. They are now in Karachi, giving interviews and being photographed — this is something that would never have happened before. We work with women because they are the most deprived members of the society and need to be empowered.”
Some of the women, such as Gul Khatoon of Khairpur, are the sole income-earners in their households. She has come to the exhibition to show the applique work she has done on bed sets. “They involved us in this project and have helped us fight poverty,” she said, adding that she makes between Rs10,000 and Rs15,000 per month, which she claims is enough for her family.
“We operate in the most backward areas of the country,” claimed SRSO CEO Naheed Shah Durrani. “These women have previously been trained by SRSO but had no source of income. We’re trying to change that by bringing their products to the city.”
According to Durrani, SRSO has trained over 7,000 women and is connected to over 5,000 households in northern Sindh. She explained that to help these women gain maximum monetary benefit from their skills, they have incorporated urban trends into their work. “In order to set apart their work from what is available in the market, we have made a few innovations, such as the net work done on the blankets,” said Durrani. “SRSO is trying to get their products into popular stores, such as Khaadi, so that these women have a steady source of income.”
Sharmila Farooqi, who was also present at the event, offered SRSO a place in the upcoming Sindh Festival.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2014.