Global Anti-Poverty Week 16 – 22 October
India has become one of the fastest growing developing countries. However, poverty across the nation is still a true, visible and deeply ingrained part of life there.
Adults living in poverty have often started life as children living in poverty. This has forced them to sacrifice education and training. Without even basic skills such as reading and writing, they will be unable to move up the social ladder, find work for themselves and care and protect their own family, thus falling prey to the vicious poverty cycle.
Poverty in India – the statistics
* 50% of Indians don’t have proper shelter
* 70% don’t have access to decent toilets
* 35% of households don’t have a nearby water source
* 85% of villages don’t have a secondary school
* Over 40% of these same villages don’t have proper roads connecting them
Kerala – the facts
* High unemployment due to lack of a manufacturing base. Little work other than tourism and an over-dependence on farming. Keralites (2 million) are driven to seek work in the Gulf, which has far-reaching implications for the strong family-based structure of traditional Keralan communities
* Kerala is a densely populated state of more than 30 million people, a third of which is covered by forests
* Kerala has the highest literacy rate in India but despite this, there are districts within the state with high poverty rates. However, this advantage has become a strange liability, as the majority of educated unemployed people have to seek work elsewhere. Kerala has the highest per capita consumption of newspapers in India
* Lack of hope has caused many people to take their own life – 12 times the national average.
Over 18,000 farmers and an unknown number of labourers commit suicide every year.
* Alcoholism has become a big social problem in Kerala.
* A prolonged communist rule has led to a poor work ethic and an estrangement from private investments
FAIR TRADE BREAKS THE CHAINS OF POVERTY BY HELPING MARGINALISED PRODUCERS AND BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FAIR TRADE ECONOMY
FAIR TRADE + economic opportunities = NO POVERTY
How is Kerala Crafts fair trade?
As a member of BAFTS we believe in promoting the 10 Principles of Fair Trade as a means to eradicate poverty:
1. We open up markets in the UK that would otherwise be difficult. We create opportunities for permanent jobs, not by taking control but by helping a project to remain sustainable
2. As a UK registered charity our information is openly available. We treat our artisans as partners rather than employees, and as such they are involved in design decisions, encouraging their own creativity and they set their own prices
3. Our year round orders can be counted on as an assured source of income. We are working for the common good – and good practice is paramount
4. We pay higher than average prices that reflects the true cost of production. No discount is ever asked for nor expected. We believe in being fair to our workers in India and fair to our customers in the UK
5. Child labour is not tolerated. However the technical skills can be passed down to the younger generation which helps to preserve ancient, unique traditions through apprentice schemes
6. Women outnumber men in Kerala and our projects are all run by women, recruiting women only. Empowering women has been our priority and no distinction is made of age, caste or religion. The stories behind the people are often heart-rending
7. We can guarantee that our workers have a clean, light, safe working environment. Flexibility to take work home to fit around family commitments is an option. All artisans are given proper training and our annual visits enable us to see that good work ethics are maintained
8. Our aim is to assist producers in capability building, building market linkages and product development. We help to achieve a vision of a sustainable, gender equal and development-orientated production throughout the supply chain. Our relationship is based on mutual trust and respect
9. Information to promote fair trade is available on our website with good visuals, and using social media and also as members of BAFTS. We ensure the positive effects are felt by our workers through informing and educating customers. All our product labels carry a picture of the person who made the product
10. Our baskets are made using vegetable based dyes. Natural fibres of banana, sisal and palm are used, which have been soaked in rainwater collected in the harvesting tanks. With our fabrics, we try and limit the use of synthetic textiles and use organic cotton, bamboo and infused ayurvedic organic cotton. We are often able to reuse packaging.
Kudumbashree – Kerala’s own poverty eradication scheme for women
The literal meaning of Kudumbashree is ‘prosperity of family’, and Kudumbashree is built around 3 critical components: micro credit, entrepreneurship and empowerment.
Kudumbashree was launched by the government of Kerala in 1998 for wiping out absolute poverty from the state through concerted community action under the leadership of Local Self Governments. Kudumbashree is today one of the largest women-empowering projects in the country and the programme covers more than 50% of the households in Kerala.
Kudumbashree perceives poverty not just as a deprivation of money, but also a deprivation of human rights. The poor need to find a collective voice to help claim these rights. Women should no longer remain passive recipients but active leaders in women-involved development initiatives through forming self-help groups and entrepreneurial activities.
This initiative has succeeded in addressing the basic needs of less privileged women, thus providing them a more dignified life and a better future.
Our range of handloom products are made by a women’s small co-operative which is part of the Kudumbashree scheme. A range of products are made for the ethically conscious consumer, whilst at the same time, aims to improve the life of small farmers and workers.