60-YO helps 1000 Kashmiri women earn embroidery during pandemic
Jhe former state of Jammu and Kashmir recorded the second highest unemployment rate in the country, at 46%. Successive shutdowns and crackdowns over the past three years have dealt a severe blow to the private sector, sending the unemployment rate skyrocketing. Amidst these repeated downsides, many have tried to revive and boost their economic status in their abilities. Designing trading strategies that would support the most volatile situations became the top priority for these people.
One such person is Zamruda Bano from Kulgam district in Jammu and Kashmir who has created a livelihood not only for herself but for others. This 60-year-old woman has never had the chance to receive an education, yet she stands tall, providing jobs for 1,000 women. She had created the first center in her village, gradually expanding to another. Over the years, Zamruda has established more than 100 centers in dozens of villages in Kulgam and Anantnag districts.
In these centres, women engage in crewel embroidery, chain stitching, and the making of crewel bags, curtains, and other linens. The prices of these vary from Rs 2,000 to Rs 20,000 and more. They receive up to 5,000 orders per month.
Each center hosts about 10 to 20 women and girls, and they earn between 3,000 and 6,000 rupees per month, depending on the production they provide.
Believe in “self-sufficiency”
Zamruda, who is also a mother of three daughters, learned the art of crewel embroidery from her elders in her village. In 1991, soon after her marriage, Zamruda began training girls in several villages in southern Kashmir to earn money through art. The same year, it had created its first training center. According to her, it takes about two to four weeks to learn this art.
“After learning the art, I didn’t limit myself to myself. Instead, I taught it to more women who had very little available means of earning an income. I have seen so many girls in our village sitting idle at home and facing financial constraints. That’s when the idea of teaching these girls came to my mind,” says Zamruda.
Currently, as the Union Territory sinks with rising unemployment, her initiative has been very helpful for women. Every month, she earns Rs 10-15 lakh, out of which she remunerates the women who work under her, including the cost of raw materials, clothes, wool, cotton and rent for the centres.
Zamruda believes in self-sufficiency and suggested that women and girls come forward and start their own businesses to generate jobs and profits at the same time. Through its centers, it aims to provide employment to underprivileged women who have not had the chance to receive an adequate education. She didn’t let lack of education become a reason for not having economic fulfillment.
“I was sitting around doing nothing after passing class 10. My family could not afford to send me for higher education due to financial constraints. In 2017, I discovered this center where I learned to make crewel cushions for a few weeks. Today, I earn more than Rs 5,000 per month,” says Arifa Jan, one of the girls at the Kulgam centers.
Zamruda adds that his journey to build a career as an entrepreneur has been full of challenges. She says, “Creating centers has never been easy, especially in the beginning. I was facing financial problems and also looking for a market for these items. However, everything fell into place with the support of my family. My husband, a government employee, supported me every step of the way. Moreover, I have worked very hard to set up these centers. At the request of people, I am now looking to expand these centers across Kashmir. »
The biggest advantage of these centers is that women can work even during periods of confinement or whatever the weather conditions. These centers are located in the villages, where women can sit and work together. “They don’t have to travel to work. The main reason behind setting up these centers in their villages is that their families do not feel uncomfortable sending them outside. Even during the pandemic, while maintaining the protocols, most of our centers were operating normally,” adds Zamruda.
Today, products from these centers are sent to Srinagar and several other parts of the country such as New Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bengaluru. Zamruda also has a shop in Anantnag where she sells these products herself.
Talking about the confidence Zamruda has gained in managing customer relations and finances, she happily says, “I take care of all my customers and withdraw or deposit money by myself through an ATM. or the bank.”
46% unemployment rate in stark contrast to government claims, says NC; Posted by New Indian Express on March 20, 2022
Written by Mudassir Kuloo (Charkha features); Edited by Yoshita Rao