Weaving is a favourite hobby of almost all Manipuri women as they are apt in handling the loom and weave dreams on fabrics such as moiraingphee, leirum, lasingphee or phanek fabric. From intricate motifs to the quality of fabrics, Manipuri women create world class garments.
Unfortunately, till date the women artisans of Manipur have not got their dues as they have hardly managed to turn their expertise in earning their livelihoods. However, things are changing fast.
Now, the Manipuri women will not only create best of fabrics on their handlooms but will also earn handsome money out of it. Store of Fabindia, a popular brand that deals with handloom and handicraft products to put up designer palazzos, shrugs and kurtis made out of Manipuri fabrics. Also Goa-based textile company has also placed an order for the products.
According to an estimate, around 33.7 percent of the state's households are associated with the handloom industry. In fact, the handloom industry comes second only to agriculture in terms of employment generation for women. Unfortunately, the weavers have failed to promote their products and turn handloom industry into a profitable business as the state has been ravaged by militancy for several decades.
Also lack of contact with domestic and international market space has kept the exquisite textiles limited to the state market only. As market space is limited, the profit margin remains restricted.
Most products lack a national and international appeal. Hence, it is decided to work upon a skills upgrade for the artisans, provision of cheap yarn and adequate market links, said Binalakshmi Nepram, a rights activist who heads the two NGOs.
Nepram said that such efforts will go a long way because when they economically empower women, they empower a community, a state and region and usher in peace and development in the Northeast.
The foundation, in collaboration with Rangsutra, helps to market the final products in cities and putting them in touch with other buyers and retailers like Fabindia. While, NECTAR provides loans to acquire yarn and set up better looms, along with skills training for the women weavers.
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