|The Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan is a collective group of rural women based in the western state of Gujarat. Forming self sustaining producer groups these women have come together to improve their socio and economic status.
The Kutch region of Gujarat is prone to severe droughts rendering traditional income from small scale agriculture unreliable. As if droughts were not enough the region is also earthquake prone and subject to severe weather conditions. The outstanding geological region of the area must be the famous Great Raan of Kutch, a seasonal salt marsh that stretches for hundreds of square miles. To the north it meets the Sind desert and to the south it connects with the Little Raan and the Gulf of Kutch. There is a short rainy season when the plains become flooded but most of the year with a searing heat of up to 50 degrees the marshes are turned into relentless salt flats. These salt plains however do attract some specialist wildlife, in particular flamingos and the endangered Asiatic wild ass.
KMVS was founded in 1989 with the overall aim of empowering women to increase their sustainable income. They support a variety of programmes which encourage village and tribal unity with particular emphasis on women becoming more involved in the social and political arenas. Their projects include setting up local radio stations which help in education for many illiterate villagers to ensuring water supply to drought prone areas and environmental management. Today there are over 4000 members, with at least 1200 being traditional artisans.
There is a strong tradition of embroidery among the tribal women of the area but over the years they found that the middlemen were demanding quantity over quality and paying a paltry sum. They took matters into their own hands with the help of KMVS by forming craft groups where they could be in control of design and quality.
The result is a range of stunningly beautiful embroidery products which are marketed under the brand name Qasab. They chose the word ‘qasab’ which means craft skill to represent the quality of their items.
Their motto is ‘The work you buy is an expression of our pride’.
The organisation now has a centre in the city of Bhuj in Gujarat which coordinates the women of KMVS in bringing to market the Qasab brand items.
The Bombay Bedspread Company and KMVS.
We have lots of special items from Qasab, including bags and pouches, and we are particularly impressed by the luxury cushion covers.
Learn more about the KMVS Community Radio initiative
Learn more about The Raan of Kutch here
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