Khiwai Mahila Hastshilp – An Artisan Group

“Khiwai Mahila Hastshilp” an artisan group is based in Khiwai village in District Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. Majority of the inhabitants are involved in Agriculture as their livelihood. Though the things are changing with times the culture is still orthodox and male dominated. Literacy rate is not up to the standards yet in the village. The women in the village mostly stay at home. Though the girls are attending school the high education is still a dream for them.

In order to support and empower young women in the village, Tara has been involved in the village. Ms. Mosmeen the coordinator of the “Khiwai Mahila Hastshilp Samooh” is a daughter of a small farmer. She could study only religious education till class 5th. Due to conservative society she could not attend the regular school. Since the economic situation of the family was not good enough, she learnt to make jewellery with the weaving techniques. More than a decade ago, many petty contractors were taking the orders from the city and get them made in the villages around. Mosmeen also had to work for them to have some income. They had no say about the wages. Since these young women hardly any educational background they often became the victim of their exploitation.


During this period, they came in contact with Tara, when Moon Sharma and some of colleagues from Tara happen to visit the village. Knowing the unfairness in the trade dealings their by the local contractors and listening the story of Mousmeen and other fellow women they decided to support them. With the support from Tara, Mosmeen organized her own group, to begin with three fellow women and named it “Khiwai Mahila Hastshilp” in 2003. With the capacity building support and the encouragement received from Tara more women joined the group. Through an adult education program they also learnt the basic of accounts and learnt to write. With times they received more work. Due to the conservative society there it took sometime for them to come out from their house and visit the city of Delhi (Tara) for the first time.

Today there are 17 artisans (15 women and 2 men) directly involved with the group. But it also depends on the work availability. Before they were working from a small room in the house, but today they have a separate workshop. When they calculate prices, they make sure that they get state wages. However, there are times when there is no regular work available.


In the words of Mousmeen, “My life had not been easy. I was married off to a man from another village at early age. This is the tradition in our village that when the girls become teenagers they are married off by the parents for a better life. That is the way of life there and the girls have no say. My life did not changed after the marriage, in fact, it became more difficult. There were some good moments as I had three children. Sadly, some years later my husband deserted me and married to another woman. I was left alone with my three children with no security and dignity. Somehow, I returned back to my parents. To take care of my children I had to work hard. The work we received from Tara helped me to stand on my feet and gave confidence to face life. I am happy that today things have changed for better.”


We have our workshop and are able to provide work for other women in my village. We are more empowered, as we earn our own money. We could not go to school but we send our children to school and this could be possible only through Fair Trade. It gives us strength and we have learnt to speak what we believe in.