Be the change you want to see in the world - Gandhi

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Scarves & Social Responsibility: Nepali by TDM

After having spent quite a bit of time in Nepal last spring/summer, I can definitely attest to the need for women to become self-sufficient and gain some independence. To nurture these women's amazing weaving skill and provide opportunity for them to make an income that will support them and/or their children - a living wage. The nature of weaving allows these women the opportunity to work from home and make an income while caring for their families. 

Nepal is an impoverished country with unrelenting political instability that has left most of the country struggling to adapt to the chaos while trying to make some sort of living wage. The Maoist insurgency led to a mass flooding of people to Kathmandu, the loss of the Royal family and a country with no official constitution. 

Weaving and other textile crafts is a tradition and skill that has remained among Nepali women. Unfortunately, this scenario leaves these women open to labour abuse as the economy struggles to uplift itself. There is massive corruption and it is a 'rich get richer, poor get poorer' situation.  This is when companies from developed nations enter and typically take advantage of low low labour wages, lack of regulation and the desperation to do business with companies from developed nations. 

Supporting fair-trade and environmentally conscious crafts is one of the best things we can do as consumers. Vote with your dollar. While it is impossible for us to be 100% confident that what they say is what they do - it is better than the alternative - buying from the brands in the mall! The big, chain store brands pumping out millions of product a year at any social/environmental cost. 

Nepali by TDM provides access to education, healthcare  and above market compensation for their women weavers. They use azo-free dyes and natural fibers such as bamboo, wool, silk and cashmere. Everything is hand-made. 

While trekking and travelling throughout Nepal I went to visit as many fair-trade weaving co-operatives as I could. Even in the rural villages you get to see these women weave by hand on these long, thin looms. It's so amazing to see these scarves available to consumers in the West and know that these women are able to make a living wage from the fruits of their labour. Skill-development of the Nepali women is one step closer to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Here are some pictures of a fair-trade co-operative in Pokhara, Nepal.

My friend Kaitlyn buying a great wedding gift.

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