art & culture
Pakistan’s art and craft lineage stretches back to the Indus Civilisation, however, we still lack the proper tools to bring these works to the forefront and push these industries to reach their full potential. To bring positive change in the livelihood of women involved in these arts, large-scale initiatives are required. This necessitates a fresh awareness of local and global markets.
Women artisans in Pakistan only need a brief window of opportunity to show the world the magic they can create.
In a bid to escalate and promote local artisans while also giving them a platform with equal opportunity, the creative director of Shaan-e-Pakistan and House of Braahtii, Huma Nasr, has propagated one such initiative: ‘Together We Grow’. House of Braahtii is an offshoot of Shaan-e-Pakistan which began its creative journey in 2006. This week You! takes a look at the recently held Crafter’s Summit to promote and celebrate local artisans.
Shaan-e-Pakistan is a cross-border and cultural program that envisions to bring the two sister countries – India and Pakistan – on one platform and celebrate the differences and uniqueness in art and culture, while promoting local artisans and their work. Their campaign and innovator design group held an exhibition for crafters, as well as a Crafter’s Summit for the first time in Karachi. The summit featured four sessions where light was shed on underlying problems shared by women who started their small businesses with no support or funds. The event housed many local artisanal brands alongside some well-known non-profit organisations such as Behbud and Kiran Foundation.
Huma Nasr, the backbone behind this initiative, shared her vision in the wake of the campaign. “We cannot do this on our own, we need the support of everyone who wants arts and crafts as well as local artisanal talent to be recognised in the world. Our vision has been greatly and adversely affected due to Covid - 19 but also the commercialisation of this industry. This is why we are working in this space as there are very few who understand just why we need to escalate and promote the small community business,” she proclaimed.
Nasr acknowledges the underlying problems associated with marketing. “Since, local producers do not have the same access to global markets to sell their own products, this often leads to a low level of agency for local producers, i.e. their ability to influence their economic success through their own efforts. Local initiatives such as these are trying to change this,” she added
The ability for local producers in the developing world to make their products available to an international market aims at connecting them to global markets and thereby strengthening their agency and economic self-determination. Nasr also talked about the women artisans who were supported through the programme.
As a pioneer in community building for women, Behbud’s chairperson Naheed Viqar shared the vows of women she has worked with. “Imagine juggling domestic tasks, your children's welfare and education, and keeping a family afloat without a steady source of income! For our craftswomen, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Finding a sense of purpose, a reason to get out of bed every day, and a solid job that pays more than the minimum wage has helped our craftsmen improve their lives in this situation,” she explained.
“With their first work, they get newfound confidence, enhanced community perception, and financial support for their families, such as contributions to household bills and children's schooling. These personal objectives play an important influence in all we do as a company,” she asserted.
There is no denying that in a world of mass produced and commercialised consumption, well-made handicrafts are becoming rare. The need of the hour is to have platforms and tools that enable local artisans’ products to reach the global market. ‘Together We Grow’ has built a family of people who find inspiration in collaborations and is teaching us the worth of community. We can learn a lot from them, as we contribute to make this journey more beneficial and rewarding for everyone.