Okhai, established by Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) with a mission to encourage and empower women in the rural areas, has launched a helpline for artisans across the remotest parts of India on the occasion of International Day of Rural Women. This initiative is in line with this year’s theme – ‘Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19’ to create awareness of these women’s struggles, their needs, and the critical role they play in our society.
While this pandemic has caused ripples across the globe, it has come upon most harshly on rural India and its artisans who would earn a daily income from supplying to retail stores before the crisis. The helpline has been launched with an aim to augment its support to all artisans at the grassroots gifted with traditional skills to craft apparels, home décor products or accessories and present opportunities to them in these unprecedented times. The helpline number will enable these artisans hailing from different parts of India to call and register their concerns. They can also catalogue details of the products they create, their geographical location and the number of artisans in their group that will facilitate access to newer markets and amplify their voice and visibility in the handicraft industry.
“Handicrafts is the second largest income generating industry in the country today after agriculture but it has not been immune to the effects of this global pandemic. The helpline is born out of Okhai’s desire to create a solution to this challenge and safeguard the talented and skilled artisans in all forms of art. The helpline number – 6359 021 888 will also be registered on WhatsApp for easy access. While Okhai has scaled during the pandemic from representing 2300 artisans in March to 16000 artisans in October, this helpline will provide assistance to artisans in the farthest regions of the country.” said, Kirti Poonia, Head- Okhai.
Okhai’s fundamental objective to launch this helpline is to reach out to the tribal and rural artisans in India and help them become independent and self-reliant. The support for grievances will be provided in collaboration with Creative Dignity group of volunteers supporting the crafts industry through the pandemic. Okhai will also explore collaborating and partnering with organisations and government bodies working in rural areas with the local artisans.
The highly reputed and well respected brand Okhai has not just played a pioneering role in promoting the local handicrafts but has successfully empowered rural women to become socially and financially independent. The brand currently offers a wide range of aesthetically crafted clothes for men and women, home décor products and accessories and it uses mirror work, patchwork and embroidery as a vibrant expression of the rural way of life, their rituals and their legends.