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PEOPLE // The women of Rajasthan

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Kiran kanwar starts her day by walking 10 kilometres to the fields she tends. By afternoon, she’s back in her home, working on the embroidery and trimming work she’s learnt from her mother. Most of her friends in this Rajput community have not been to school, but their children and, most notably, daughters, have the opportunity to today.

Left to right: Kiran kanwar, Manohari, Lalita, Devi, Mohini kanwar, Rekha kanwar, Vijay kanwar, Brijesh kanwar

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Rangsutra works with several similar village units in Rajasthan, with many women working with them for over 8 years now. Women are organised in groups of 15-20, where the group leader is in charge of organising batch work and quality control. The ability to earn supplementary income from artisan work means that agricultural families are protected against the need to uproot themselves in times of drought and search for government labour work.

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With over 3000 artisan shareholders in a cooperative structure, Rangsutra aims to set up central production units within communities and an entrepreneurial youth base that will expand the communities’ ability to generate income from their work. 

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For these women, working in a professionalised unit in or near their villages gives them the freedom of staying close to their families while also elevating their role within the communities. There is dignity and respect for the income that they bring in, and the independence that they gain from it.