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Women craft makers face gender inequality

- KRISHANA PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Nov 16, 2018-

Women entrepreneurs engaged in micro enterprises are not able to reach their full potential because of an unfavourable business environment. Traditional practices prevent women business owners from expanding their market, said a woman participant in the 16th Handicraft Trade Fair going on at Bhrikutimandap.

Hira Maya Shivabhakti, who has a stall displaying bamboo crafts from Manthali, Ramechhap district, said lack of resources, literacy and marketing access were hurdles to growing her business. “Skill is an important requirement that can uplift the status of women in society.”

Gender inequality is also one of the major obstacles holding back women entrepreneurs, said Mithila Devi Yadav, owner of Mithila Hastakala Painting Udhyog. She said that women have their own businesses, but they need to get the consent of their husband or other family members to make decisions. Yadav said that she was invited to Japan to work for a high salary, but she missed the opportunity because her husband didn’t allow her to go and work abroad. 

Yadav started Mithila Hastakala Painting Udhyog in 1994 by providing training to 45 women. She used to prepare the colours needed to paint Mithila art by using local materials as readymade colours were not available in those days. She still paints using natural colours, and a Mithila painting made by using natural colours costs Rs60,000. She paints Mithila art according to demand. 

Till seven years ago, Yadav used to sell her paintings to an art store at Thamel and earn Rs300,000 to Rs400,000 monthly. The store exports paintings to the US, Japan, China, India and many other countries. 

Yadav said her income had shrunk to around Rs200,000 monthly as the business was currently in the midst of a downturn. Exports have dipped slightly, but demand for Mithila art has been increasing in the domestic market, she added. 

Yadav’s whole family is 

engaged in painting Mithila art. There are more than 100 painting designs which are used in bed covers, cushion covers, curtains and pillow covers, and prices range from Rs2,000 to Rs10,000. Mirror crafts cost from Rs2,000 to Rs4,000 while a high-quality Mithila painting costs Rs10,000 

to Rs60,000. She said that she sells two to three Mithila paintings monthly.  

Bamboo craft maker Shivabhakti is participating in the handicraft fair for the first time. She was informed about the exhibition by the Ramechhap Handicraft Association. She also provides training in bamboo crafts. She produces different bamboo crafts and employs 

five persons. She undertook 

training before starting her business in 2014. 

Bamboo stools, baskets, racks and decorative items are in high demand, Shivabhakti said. Juggling business and family responsibilities is challenging, she said, adding that she earns Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 from her bamboo business monthly. She gets bamboo from nearby places and the Tarai. Bamboo crafts cost from Rs100 to Rs1,500.  

Published: 16-11-2018 08:29

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