Young Women Speaking the Economy

I.M.O.W. Team

Kutch (India)

young indian girl with elaborate clothing

Gujarat, India. 2007. Medium format.

Several tribes live in the Kutch region of Gujarat in the harsh desert of western India. The women wear traditional handcrafted clothing, and their colorful finery, elaborate tattoos and silver jewelry are unique to their individual tribal traditions. They weave, sew and embellish their beautiful fabric, passing down their knowledge of the craft to the next generation of women. Like many small economy crafts, this tradition is being usurped by technology and the demands of the global economy.

Their dress is remarkably beautiful, so you would never guess that these women are part of India's lowest caste. The life of working women in India's lower castes is notoriously brutal. More than ninety percent are self-employed, with few labor laws to protect them from exploitation. However, since the early 1970s, the state of Gujarat has set up the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) to protect women from usurious lenders, corrupt police, and an indifferent justice system.

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