WomenWeave's flagship project links organic and non-organic cotton farmers of Central India with formerly unemployed local women of Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh to create a unique earth-friendly textile ("khadi") which is ambar charka-spun, hand-woven and naturally dyed. The objective of this linkage is to ensure sustainable income for marginalized women in the area through spinning and hand weaving of the local cotton. Additionally the objective is to setup Eco-friendly, vertical linkages in Central India, which is traditionally a cotton growing area.
Since its inception in 2003, the Gudi Mudi Khadi project has trained over 300 women in weaving and spinning. The trained weavers and spinner can earn from Rs. 6000 to Rs. 12000 a month depending upon their skill.
While selecting women for the "Gudi Mudi" project, WomenWeave prioritises divorced, widowed, separated, handicapped, and agricultural labourers with low family income, with the aim of empowering the weakest and poorest section of women of the area.
WomenWeave started its first weaving revival project in February 2010 in the Bajag tehsil of the Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh, along with a hand spinning intervention. Forty-five traditional weavers have joined the project since its inception. A hand-spinning unit has also been initiated with 20 women of the tribal community so that more people can receive regular employment. Most of the women associated with the project are earning at least Rs. 6000 a month working from their homes (or its proximity).
With the informal launch of The Handloom School in Maheshwar in January 2013, WW built on its earlier training programs in “barefoot” business, computer skills, English, and design to begin a more holistic, progressive and formalized curriculum that supports, nurtures and incubates a young generation of weaver-entrepreneurs. Through a generous three-year grant of Rs. 1.21 crores from Tata Trusts, The Handloom School was formally launched in February 2015, with an inaugural batch of 15 students.
Till date, the School has trained 100 young weavers from the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Telangana in short term workshops as well as year-long courses.
Up until the 1980s, Mehendiwara, a beautiful village in the district of Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh, was a weaving hub, renowned for ultra-fine, hand spun and hand woven cotton. It is hard to describe the exquisite qualities of this traditional cloth. However, in the '80s, due to poor and myopic policy implementation by the government, there was major deskilling of the traditional weavers of Mehendiwara, which led them to gradually loose their traditional livelihood and seek alternative work as wage labourers. The village once famous for weaving now has fewer than 50 looms, compared to 1000 looms 30 years ago.
WomenWeave begun its second revival project in Balaghat in 2016. Today, 24 artisans from Balaghat are associated with the project in the functions of hand-spinning, weaving and warping.
When you enter the compound of WomenWeave's "Gudi Mudi" weaving center in Maheshwar, the first thing you will see is a large open room with a group of children happily drawing, painting or dancing, supervised by our dedicated crèche coordinator.
Our simple day care creche is provided for the children of spinners and weavers working with "Gudi Mudi". Whilst their mothers and aunts work, the children are safe and happy, and given activities to help engage and stimulate their cognitive and emotional development. This early childhood education of more than 130 youngsters is sponsored by the organisation.
For the women, knowing that their children are safe, close-by, and well taken care of, is invaluable. It enables our women weavers to concentrate free from worry, on learning, training and optimising their livelihood opportunities as part the "Gudi Mudi" project.