National Handloom Day – Silence of the looms

The handloom sector has come to a complete standstill, and needs immediate and meaningful interventions to survive. As COVID-19 continues its deadly spread, lockdowns and the resulting supply chain disruptions have significantly impacted the economy globally, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises.

9 million weavers and artisans
India has over 9 million weavers and artisans who are severely impacted due to a shutdown of sales and production activities, resulting in a loss of livelihoods. These weavers and artisans deserve support every day, and that is why Women on Wings works with many social enterprises that provide work and income to women in rural India. The goal of all these partnerships is the co-creation of as many jobs as possible for women in rural India.

Impact of COVID-19
Obviously, due to COVID-19 very few weavers are able to continue production activities as they have limited raw material available, and cannot procure any because of the lockdown. This, along with uncertainty over demand in the near future, means most cooperatives and master weavers are unable to give production orders to other weavers. Most of the existing orders have either been put on hold or cancelled. With no work, weavers are unable to earn their weekly wages. And no new jobs are being generated.

Co-creating jobs for rural women
Since its inception in 2007, Women on Wings has co-created 284,800 jobs for women in rural India. In partnership with 39 Indian social enterprises that provide work to rural women. Enterprises that operate in women centric sectors like forestry, food & agri and textiles & handicrafts.

Silence of the looms
Today, August 7, on National Handloom Day, Women on Wings salutes all those men and women who work in the handloom business. Be it artisans, weavers, or social entrepreneurs like Women on Wings’ partners, who create a platform or market place and engage rural artisans. One of these inspiring partners is Siva Devireddy, founder and CEO at GoCoop – an online marketplace for handloom cooperatives and artisans – who wrote an interesting article about the current situation in the handloom sector for Forbes India Magazine: ‘Silence of the looms’.

Image: Claude Renault Photography