Is weaving women's work?
International Women’s Day 2022 #BreaktheBias
As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, the theme of #BreaktheBias encourages us to come together and call out discrimination and stereotyping. So while talk of ‘pink v blue jobs’ is seen as dismissive, in some communities, women’s skills are not only their means of income but when channelled can create the power to change the norm.
Taking our group of talented weavers in Thiès as a wonderful example, their traditional weaving methods, passed down from mother to daughter have helped them achieve financial stability in their community, grow their team from 3 weavers to 110, develop leadership skills and create security during the pandemic.
Through Artisanne, Emma and I as two women founders have worked closely with them, developing the product range and quality controls, giving them access to an international market and creating positive new joint initiatives by listening to their needs, such as Journey to Learning. This focuses on supporting the weavers’ children in various aspects of their education, both boys and girls, whether that’s providing books, geometry sets and stationery supplies or transport to school.
This collaborative team effort which benefits their entire community has come through us paying them directly, not through traditional middle men, so they earn a fair, consistent wage for their baskets.
So yes, weaving is women’s work in Senegal but it’s a valuable skill which, with fair pay can reinforce equality and thereby break the bias.