Traditional lac jewellery is crafted in fire with the original lac extract of a Kusum tree, and is a speciality of Rajasthan. The market share of this artform has shrunk visibly due to the rising demand and supply of chemical lac products. SEWA Rajasthan has been working closely with around 8,000 women since 2001. As home-based workers, women artisans such as Aarifa behen don’t have direct access to markets. They usually end up selling their products to local shopkeepers or vendors, which minimizes their profits.
A typical day in Aarifa behen’s life requires juggling many roles. She is a first-year college student, a lac-artisan, and the eldest of five sisters at home. She also takes tuitions for children of her neighbourhood. As part of the Digital Beti program run by @sewa.rajasthan, Aarifa behen has been developing her craft skills. The workshops at SEWA office have taught her the many know-hows of working with lac. “I can now make products from start to finish all by myself.”, says 19-year-old Aarifa behen.
When business hit an all-time low during the COVID lockdown, Aarifa behen took up orders to produce masks through SEWA. She could stitch masks worth INR 4000 in a month and support her family through the tough times.
“I want to fund my education, I want to be self-reliant, and I want my parents to be proud of me.”
Aarifa behen is a #MahilaMicropreneur.