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Vocal For Local: 6 Reasons Why We Should Support Local Female Artisans

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There is not enough that can be said of supporting the local artisans to boost the economy. Although the humble Prime Minister’s plea in the form of the ‘vocal for local’ campaign has picked up speed since the first half of 2020, we are far from achieving complete fruition on it.

Amid the focus on quick last-mile deliveries and lucrative sales, the humble artists and local artisans are always the ones to lose out. This is further made worse by their lack of infrastructure, a virtual presence, and the advent of COVID-19.

Needless to say, the pandemic has left many without an income and in an economy that is struggling to get back up on its feet; supporting local artists and vendors is our best bet. It may also be prudent to consider single mothers who have been laid off, homemakers who are struggling to make ends meet, and women who have finally found their calling.

Representational Image. A woman artisan at work.

Let us understand why we should support female Indian artisans and how it can help kick start the economy post-COVID:

Livelihood Concerns

Of all those who lost their jobs to COVID, women had it worse. According to a study by Nikore, the labor force has shrunk by 13% for women but just 2% for men. It also pointed out that when economic conditions are tough, women are often discouraged from looking for work. This has led many females to forego their dreams, especially in rural India. Supporting these women can help them nurture their ambition and thereby help us boost the overall economy.

Greater Penetration Of Women In The Workforce

Now could be a great opportunity more than ever to ensure more women join the workforce. With the booming ‘work from home’ saga, women can now find it easier to manage their domestic commitments along with work. They are no longer required to forego their dreams to take care of the house. In such a scenario, buying from local female-run businesses could encourage them to grow and scale to newer heights in the time to come.

Bridging The Gap Between Tech And Art

We buy what we mostly see on the internet. The reason why local artisans are unable to grow revenue-wise is their low or no online visibility. However, this only means that we should go the extra mile to locate them, buy from them, and eventually help them build better infrastructure – digitally and otherwise. As their profits increase, they will be in a better position to upskill digitally. We can also help them outside the monetary perspective by teaching them the tech. Buying smartphones for them, setting a digital space for their business, or simply contributing to organizations that are supporting the local female artisans could help the situation massively.

Enforcing Gender Equality

Helping local female artisans could be one of the most gratifying ways to enforce gender equality. As is true for most artists, it is usually found in rural India, where the gender gap is the widest and most alarming. By supporting local rural women in their endeavors, we can change the narrative where it is most needed. It could be our one chance to help rural women become breadwinners and eventually contribute to the economy.

Helping Women Find Their Voice

The pandemic put things into perspective for most of us. We were reacquainted with our inner calling and lost hobbies. This has also been true for many homemakers and female artists in India. Their one cherished dream that was lost in all the noise has finally appeared to the fore. Many have taken to fueling their lost passions professionally. By supporting their humble endeavors, we can help them shape their dreams and boost the economy in the process.

Ensuring Sustainability And Quality

Handmade and locally curated items are more environmentally sustainable and often ensure greater quality as compared to factory-made products. They carry a unique charm and flavor to them, which is otherwise found missing in most products. By supporting local female vendors, you can not only enhance their livelihood but also contribute to a better environment.

By relying on Indian-made and local goods, we can become self-reliant as a nation and help bolster our economy in the post COVID world. This can lend a new ray of hope to the many women who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic or have finally mustered the courage to pursue their dream projects. Time to say yes to the Vocal for Local campaign if you haven’t already!

The featured image is for representational purposes only.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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