Handmade Jewelry Artisan Group of Urban India
What began as a small artisan group working from tiny, congested work spaces in Old Delhi, is now a large community with an increase in education and improvements in health and environmental impacts. Below is a thorough breakdown of these impacts.
In the past 3 years, the group has grown from 15 members to 100. Wages have also increased for this group and family income in about 20-25% higher than standard for artisan work in their area. The increase in wages and community growth is due to the sustainable and continuous work the artisans have received and has allowed them to fulfill their basic requirements for a decent living.
Education and Child Labor
In the communities in this area, it is very common to send children to work after 5th grade in order to help earn income and help support the family. However, due to the sustainable growth of this community and the counseling SETU has provided the artisans, the group has begun keeping their children in school. Even girls are beginning to attend school! The average literacy of the group has increased to 10th grade and the artisans are very proud that their children are capable of furthering their education. Artisans have opened up so much to the idea of education that they have even arranged night classes for themselves. The community expressed their excitement for the first member of the group to attend college!
These actions clearly represent a cultural shift in attitude towards the female role in a traditional Muslim community. The support of female education and the female artisan working openly in this community is fostering an educated and open society.
Healthy Work Conditions
The group began working from a congested and small space in Jama Masjid. They have recently moved their office to Sita Ram Bazar - where there are 4 large rooms, a kitchen and clean flushed toilets. The group prepares morning and evening tea for each other and the atmosphere is clean and comfortable.
What's also impressive about the group is that they do not deduct salary for holidays or leaves. One woman explained how one month she had to take 10 days off due to sickness, and none of her salary was deducted. She also shared how the working conditions here were much better than her previous job and that fresh water and refreshments, social support and the education facility made this a dream work place for her! The work setting they have developed is very similar to that of our western corporate cultures with flexible freedom.
During prior visits to the artisan community, SETU along with artisans discussed and analyzed any health concerns. After several meetings together and the consultations with experts, solutions were presented. The main concerns were in relation to their electroplating unit. The artisans have now transferred the entire rooftop floor of their building into their electroplating unit. This space is much larger and provides for proper ventilation. Acid tanks were also made with FRP - which is a glass filled fiber sheet - to avoid any leakage. Anti-shocking flooring was installed to support safe working. An industrial electrical connection was installed and follows all government compliance and is non-polluting. Gloves and masks are being used during electroplating for health safety. The artisans played an important role in these developments and took ownership of improving their work area.