Thar needs women-led enterprises
harparkar is a traditional society with prominent Rajhistani cultural influences. The population is 49 percent Hindu. The rest are Muslim. It has beautifully preserved its diversity and character. Cohabitation is a predominant characteristic of this area.
Thar is the most populated desert in India and Pakistan. Tharis readily share their resources with everybody. However, life in Thar is tough. As far as economic skills are concerned, Tharis are far behind the Pakistani average. Thari women are hardworking, but they do not get paid enough for their handicrafts. The biggest profit earners are those who exploit these workers, buying their produce cheaply and selling it at high prices in urban markets.
Empowering women can change the destiny of Tharparkar. They have talent, skills and energy; they are spirited and committed. Still, their skills are wasted due to resource limitations, a lack of smart marketing structures and planning, bad governance and a lack of women-led initiatives. Some of the Thari crafts and skills may become extinct unless special efforts are made to preserve those. We need to appreciate and think about preserving the age-old skills passed down by successive generations for centuries by promoting and valuing the traditional skills of the women of Thar.
Besides health and education facilities, the Thar region lags far behind in livelihood opportunities. The primary reason for this is a need to understand the economic gains that can be made by selling hand-embroidered, home-produced local items in a market where they are valued. Lack of infrastructure and a disconnect from urban centres are contributing to Thari women’s lack of financial stability.
Thari people live their lives simply – they eat what they grow. Green vegetables are only available after a rain. When drought hit, the people of Thar are impoverished financially and mentally.
Local governments must strive to bring smart-entrepreneurship opportunities like India and Bangladesh to the people of Thar through programmes that give the community, especially the women, a road map to realise their potential to become economically empowered. In every house in the Thar desert, handicrafts, i.e., ralli, mukka,
Local governments must strive to bring smart-entrepreneurship opportunities like India and Bangladesh to the people of Thar through programmes that give the community, especially the women, a road map to realise their potential to become economically empowered.
hurmachi, Sindhi caps, Thari bed sheets, pillow covers and traditional azarbund are found. Women wake up early in the morning and work till late at night sewing, making ralli and other items. Sold well, these can generate reasonable incomes for their households.
Despite having marketable skills, these women face many problems. First, their craft requires finishing. A local brand name alone can raise the price. Thar needs a marketing platform to help its women market their handicrafts.
Currently, Thar is far behind the Pakistani averages. The women work hard but remain miserable. It is time to promote their efforts. Handicrafts are more valued worldwide than mass-produced, factory-made items.
In Bangladesh, Dr Muhammad Yunus helped women’s empowerment. His work paid off and many Bengali women became economically and socially empowered. He gave a road map to the poor women of Bangladesh and provided them financial support and small business ideas.
In India, governments provide several types of loans to empower women. The governments also train women in skills needed for running their businesses. Every entrepreneur is special and encouraged. These women contribute immensely to the society.
There is a need for more women-friendly initiatives and market trends for Thari women. We need a comprehensive plan. Pakistan’s microfinance institutions need to think more proactively. Social entrepreneurship can play an important role in advancing these women. Enterprise is the only solution for the socio-economic development of these women and the marginalised community of Thar. We also need to encourage local companies that help enhance women’s capacity in small businesses.
There is a dire need to introduce women entrepreneurship development programmes that will encourage Thari women and equip them with business skills. Establishment of small enterprises at the local level will empower the women to work hard. Their dedication will improve the economic conditions in Thar.
The writer has more than 12 years of experience in the development sector. He can be reached at shewaramlive.com