As well as celebrating Fair Trade Month this October, we’re also welcoming fall in all its earthy-toned glory. If you haven’t doted over our felt flowers before, let this be your opportunity. Don’t forget to thank our artisan partner Friends Handicrafts while you’re at it!
Friends Handicrafts provides employment for women in Nepal and sustains the ancient technique of felting. They use this method to create unique and vibrantly colored animal bags, holiday ornaments, puppets and mobiles. Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, Friends Handicrafts’ mission is to combat urban poverty.
While vastly rich in culture, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 25.2% of its 27.47 million people living below the poverty line, placing it 157th out of 187 countries listed in the Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). While urbanization filters out local employment opportunities, Friends Handicrafts is committed to supporting skills-training and income-generation programs for 80 female heads-of-households living in and around the capital. By doing this, they provide local employment opportunities as well as access to education for their children, fostering a sense of independence in an otherwise marginalized population.
In Nepal, it is far more difficult for women to gain access to health care, nutrition, education and participation, than it is for men. Most of these women come from a background of low income, abuse, discrimination, family problems, and illiteracy. Through Friends Handicrafts, they’re given skills, independence, and a new lease on life.
Friends Handicrafts employee, Savitri Kardel, says it best: “I believe women and girls should be given the opportunity to do something – to better themselves. Before, men were more independent and girls were bound to the rules of their family. Now, women are able to make their families understand that they can do the same work as men.”