Mata Women's Clothing & Jewelry Cooperative
Women in India are typically expected to work within their homes. This lifestyle is not always practical, or simply not appealing to women with a more entrepreneurial spirit. Artisans who work with Mata have the choice of working from their homes or in a communal work space.
This all female network of cooperatives employs hundreds of women in marginalized communities all across India, and many women in Nepal as well. These women’s wages exceed the local minimum wage. Artisans are paid by the piece, which is beneficial for artisans just starting out because there is no penalty for crafting a garment or piece of jewelry slower than your coworkers. Faster sewers clearly benefit from the paid by the piece system as well. The women choose what to charge for each piece. Artisans working with Mata earn health care, retirement pensions and paid maternity leave. Artisans who are mothers are able to utilize the daycare services offered as well.
Mata’s cooperatives also employ local social workers to help artisans with issues in their personal lives, such as opening a bank account, dealing with situations of domestic violence and managing HIV/AIDS. Artisans also have access to literacy and computer training classes, vital skill sets in a country with a female literacy rate of 65%. An artisan named Sidhama shared that before becoming an employee of this Fair Trade cooperative, she avoided buses because she could not read the bus numbers. She took the literacy classes available to her, now she arrives to work by bus daily.
A typical garment factory is set up in assembly-line fashion. Say the garment being produced is jeans- one employee sews on the zipper, one sews on the back pockets and so on. This is not the case with Mata’s cooperatives. Artisans make the entire garment from start to finish, a practice that is not only more fulfilling for the artisans but ensures a high quality garment.
The women who work in these cooperatives are encouraged to broaden their skill-sets and have access to skills training that can eventually lead to promotions within the cooperative. Beyond being an artisan, women have the opportunity to take on roles such as trainer, quality checker or materials buyer.
At One World Fair Trade, we are proud and honored to call these women our partners in business.