A Leap Forward
From nettle production to handcrafting
Rural Women and economic well being is often regarded as an unrelated topic especially in a patriarchal society like Nepal. In this context, when village women gather together to empower themselves through their individual effort, it is worth a story to tell.
Women of Sankhuwasabha, one of the rural mountainous areas of Nepal, are becoming empowered and economically stable through their own effort. The source of their empowerment is “Nettle Production”, also known as Allo in Nepali. These nettles are processed and converted into handmade dresses, footwear, notebooks, handbags and many more. Today they have occupied market as authentic Nepali products, thus attracting attention of tourist from all around the world.
Nettles have lot of usefulness as a fabric, mostly in terms of durability and sustainability. Its cultivation is easy as it doesn’t require irrigation or any other sophisticated farming technique. It grows naturally like weed, and automatically regenerates after harvesting. It grows in an altitude of 1500m to 3000m.
There are very few organizations in the country which provides market to these nettle products. According to Mrs. Pramila, the chief of Ninam Ridum Bio- Handicraft; village women earns at least 5000 rupees for a part-time involvement in this business. She further adds, that not only elderly women, this process have helped young girls to generate the economic support needed for their education. For young girls it is not just a skill but a tool that helps them shape their future. The income that these women generates is not only satisfying their daily needs but is also providing opportunity to attain certain development requirement such as education, empowerment and economic upliftment.
According to Mrs. Pramila, at present more than 1000 women are involved in this business. However, these women have not had much exposure in terms of their work and achievements. She intends to promote these women with the help of her organization.