DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Craftswomen Around the World

By Jill Moss

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

Each year, millions of women around the world earn money by selling traditional art or hand-made crafts. Often, this is the only way women in developing countries can earn money. They may not have any other work skills. Yet by selling their crafts, these women have become a part of the world economy.

More importantly, they are able to provide for their families. Women in villages often are unable to leave their homes and children to search for a job. So it is important for them to be able to make crafts while working at home.

Women in villages use the money they earn by selling their crafts to improve living conditions for their families. They use the money to buy land and farm animals. They are able to provide better food, health care and education for their children.

Studies have found that women spend more of the money they earn caring for their families than men do. For example, in India, women spend ninety percent of their earnings on food, medicine and books for their children. Men, however, spend only forty percent on their families. Based on these findings, many international organizations fighting world hunger are starting to aim their efforts toward women.

One such group is Freedom From Hunger. This organization provides loans to groups of women in developing countries. The women use the money to buy materials to make their crafts. An average loan totals about one-hundred-twenty dollars. It must be paid back within a limited amount of time. In Bolivia, for example, the loans are based on a sixteen-week time period. After the women repay the loan, they can get another one.

The work of women artists around the world also supports their national cultures. For example, in South Africa, women create jewelry from small pieces of plastic and glass. This is a craft that has been important in their culture for four-hundred years.

In India, a program in Gujarat state provides work for more than two-thousand women from eighty-five villages. They make traditional embroidered clothing and material. In Turkey, women make traditional hand-woven rugs.

In some places, it is easy to get these crafts to the market to sell to visitors from other countries. However, in some countries this is difficult because of wars or other violence.

This Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.

Voice of America Special English