Women in slum areas crafting a better world for them and for others
They are not only reviving the long-forgotten craft, they are weaving a life out of it
Our age-old and long-forgotten bags have now become bags of hope for women living in slums of Pune. Their Hand-woven bags made of 100% recyclable plastic was a major hit with the Hyderabadi socialites who participated in Kausalyam 2021, a Handlooms and Handicrafts exhibition organized by Crafts Council of India (CCT).
Totum, who was the social enterprise behind organizing these women said that the product was a huge hit, and everything was sold out. These bags which were once a part of our lives have now been forgotten. But they have now made a magical come back. Many women and their families from the slums of Pune have given a revival to this vintage craft. It serves a dual purpose.
Speaking to The Hans India, Sri Latha , member of organizer committee Kausalyam2021 said, "The enterprise was first started in 1987 as Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh and from then, its working for the development of weavers and handicrafts. Days passing on, people started showing interest and joined the organization. We conduct workshops and provide market to their art every year, that enable them livelihood every year."
Appreciating the hard work and skill of these women the NGO also facilitates them with awards.
Speaking to The Hans India, founder of the enterprise, Jyotsna Shahane, expressed joy for being able to participate in Kausalyam 2021.
It took us two years of working in the slums of Pune to introduce sustainable practices for garbage disposal, it became clear, to improve their lives, their wage-earning capacities must be improved, said Jyotsna.
They had neither education nor marketable skills. Hand Knotting of the bags was born. Then they learnt to use 100% recyclable plastic. Then came Totum Bags to market their products.
All bag designs and colour combinations that we sell are unique to Totum Bags says Jyotsna, and your purchase has a direct social impact on women in need. Totum's colourful bags brighten up all our lives! she adds.
The women behind these bags are home-bound due to cultural or religious traditions, have multiple dependents to take care of, or have been widowed or abandoned, informs Jyotsna.
This enterprise works ahead with this primary mission to support the women of Totum to become pillars of their communities, she informs.
All you need to know about these bags
The bags are made to safeguard the future while taking inspiration from the past. By reviving the vintage Indian craft of hand-knotted bag weaving and using 100% recyclable plastic, the NGO hopes to encourage the practice of reuse and help reduce the demand for disposable single-use bags that wreak havoc on the planet.
The bags are not just recyclable, they are sturdy, works well for versatile usage, easy to clean and extremely water-resistant. They come in various shapes and sizes. The collection includes: Boss Essentials; Marché Collection; Newly Added; Best Sellers; Limited Edition.
Their designs and handles also vary. They include Vegan Leather Handles; Woven Handles; Monochrome Bags; Third Eye Knot Bags; Cross Knot Bags; Regular Knot Bags. Depending on the design, the bags have handles that are hand-woven to match, or made from vegan leather. Vegan leather handles can be black, brown, tan, white, or deep red, based on the bag design.
The price of the bag varies from design to design, from Rs 1100/- and above and some cost even Rs 2150/- and even more.