Coming out of the four walls of their homes, rural women from far-flung villages of Punjab and Haryana have come forward to showcase their handicraft work at CII Chandigarh Fair inaugurated here on Friday.
From hand-woven sweaters to jute bags to colourful phulkaris, their products seem to have given a tough competition to the other stalls of well-known designers.
Giving boost to the cottage industry and women empowerment, the trade fair management has invited women from Amritsar who are selling different varieties of pickles; Dalit women who are showcasing hand-made dresses and carpets; and a huge group of women from a Yamnanagar village who are here with creative Diwali products.
Entering the hall number 7, one gets to meet all these women selling their hand-made products, including colourful candles, earthen oil lamps and decoration material. With Diwali around the corner, these stalls are a major attraction.
Manjit Kaur, a Yamunanagar village resident, said, “We are associated with NGO Society for All Round Development, and there are as many as 287 self-help groups — each having 15 women members — associated with it. After saving money, we start a small business of our own.” She added, “All products displayed here are made by us… I am associated with self-help groups for the past five years; it has made me more confident and independent.”
At one of the stalls set up by NGO Adarsh Dalit Kalyan Yuva Samiti, its members say hundreds of Dalit women from the Revari village are associated with the organisation.
“We have set up a training-cum-manufacturing centre, where we teach women how to make kurtas and dresses. The dresses displayed at the stall are made by them,” said member Shashi Devi.
Sumita, who has come for the first time said, “I make carpets in my village and this time, I got an opportunity to come to Chandigarh to present my work. It’s a different experience and I am happy.”
During the trade fair last year, women from Chugganna village, Amritsar, who have put up a pickle stall, had won the first prize. One can also see a stall displaying Punjabi traditional products such as phulkari, baag, pakhi and other items.
UT adviser Vijay Kumar Dev inaugurated the 20th CII Chandigarh Fair at Parade Ground, Sector 17. There are over 400 stalls put up at the fair.
“The positive thing about the CII-Chandigarh fair is that it does not only provide an opportunity to those employed with the cottage industry to showcase their craft but also to develop more industry links. Women empowerment campaign will get a boost from such initiatives,” said Dev.