Mata Traders partners with several fair trade organizations in India and Nepal that train and employ hundreds of artisans in marginalized communities, with a focus on gender equity and empowering women. This is what we love about working with them.
The artisans come from rural areas, tribal villages, and urban slums, but they all want the same thing – the chance to earn a fair wage and lift their families and communities out of poverty.
Mata Traders fair trade clothing and accessories are made by the hands of artisans in India and Nepal. Every item we sell is an original piece, and many incorporate craft traditions that date back centuries, such as block printing and embroidery.
The cooperatives are similar to social service agencies in the support they provide to end the cycle of poverty for the members and their families. Health care, paid maternity leave, retirement pensions, and daycare: all part of the membership package. Social workers on staff assist the artisans in addressing their personal needs, from opening a bank account to situations of domestic violence and dealing with HIV/AIDS. There are literacy classes, computer training, and regular workshops on topics like hygiene, nutrition, and parenting. We’ve seen this education really make a difference: co-op member Sidhama told us that before coming to the co-op, she never rode buses because she could not read the bus numbers. Now she travels around Mumbai by bus without problem. The co-ops empower the women to navigate their own lives, quite literally!
India is a traditional society where a woman doesn’t usually work outside the home. It’s not too bold a generalization to say that upon joining the co-ops many of the women are shy and timid, but that soon changes. The women form close friendships and begin to come out of their shells. As co-op social worker Sampada explained, “First they are like, ‘meow.’ But later they are a tiger of the Center!” This newfound confidence and voice carries over into their own communities. Choti, the head of her embroidery group, organized a successful protest with over 200 women to demand water for her village during a long drought and it worked! Choti told us it was through the co-op that she gained the confidence to stand up for herself and her larger community.