Where are the Women?

During my first year of researching potential suppliers for Finders and Makers, I met the Finder Vivek, who is based in Jaipur, India. He came across as a gentle man who was happy to share his story during our meeting. Highly educated, he holds an MBA after studying abroad, but his real passion is for design. He loves to create jewellery and found great success overseas in this field.

His real passion was to bring his love for design to his home country, and that’s where he started his enterprise, creating stunning products that are now featured in our Spirited Collection. Vivek is passionate about jewellery and his designs are truly beautiful. He takes advantage of his location in Jaipur, India, a place well known for a wide variety of locally mined semi-precious stones and skilled artisans, familiar with working with them.

After our first encounter, we arranged to visit Vivek several months later at his workshop. The space was bright and airy and overall the environment was tranquil and calm. The thing that was most noticeable was how much the working environment supported the dedication for quality shared by this team of Makers. Watching them expertly twist and turn tiny gold threads, to create beautiful and delicate necklaces was truly amazing.

As we walked further into the workshop and were introduced to Vivek’s artisans, it didn’t take long to notice that almost all of the workforce are mainly men. There were only a few ladies working alongside the master jewellers, but that seemed to be because their husbands were there. We asked permission to photograph them, but our request was politely declined.

So, in some places it seems that women are still excluded from professions that historically have been deemed only for men. In the jewellery making sector, women are often found making designs that contain elements of sewing and textiles – traditionally women’s crafts. In these contexts we know that women empower women. Techniques which require some strength as well as skill however, such as metal jewellery making, are presumed to be a ‘man’s job’. Women are not taught these skills and would never be seen leaving the home for this kind of work. Surprisingly, a few women in this organisation did have more senior roles, but these seemed to be more administrative in nature.

“Much of the reason they don’t work appears to lie in the persistence of India’s traditional gender norms, which seek to ensure ‘purity’ of women by protecting them from men other than their husbands and restrict mobility outside their homes.” This comment was made by authors Pande and Moore in an article in the New York Times. “So, women often end up in lower-paid and less-responsible positions than their abilities would otherwise allow them – which, in turn, makes it less likely that they will choose to work at all, especially as household incomes rise and they don’t absolutely have to work to survive.”

We hope that as we continue to support Makers in this male dominated domain, we will start to see more and more women being valued for their creative talents and artisan skills and encouraged to become a valued part of all industries.

Until next time


All photos copyright of Finders and Makers

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