Ruaab - A Producer Company Of Women
Popular Patchwork|March 2017
How a group of women in India have taken their hand sewing skills into the international marketplace.
Chitra Balasubramaniam

What is the connection between some well known global brands and a small textile production company of women based out of Delhi, India? Quite a lot actually. Thanks to the ethical sourcing of these brands, many of the poor and marginalised women of Delhi now have the opportunity to use their handwork and embroidery skills to become home-workers creating pieces for apparel. Working with the brands through their India based suppliers or exporters, the organisation takes on hand-work orders for these global apparel players. These brands not only pay minimum fair wages but also recognise the skill and efforts of these women. It is a remarkable achievement as to how a group of skilled, unorganised home-workers have, under the umbrella of a producer company, been able to liaise with million dollar brands – but how did this happen?

The organisation Ruaab Sewa Producer Company Limited, was set up in 2010 with 1000 women shareholders who are all artisans. The acronym SEWA stands for Self Employed Women’s Association, and describes the company’s efforts as representing ‘a unique model of garment production and sourcing that is owned and managed by women producers, which ensures an ethical and transparent supply chain’. The company has nine board members, six are the producers themselves, two are representative of SEWA and one is independent.

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