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Global Girlfriends Art and Crafts Projects

UGANDA and INDIA -- In a number of developing and third world countries, handmade crafts are an important tool for women to achieve autonomy. Crafts can not only be a way out of poverty and provide a stable income but also a means of independence and a medium through which self esteem can be fostered.

The US based social enterprise company Global Girlfriends, enables hand creations and crafts from women’s group and cooperatives from over twenty countries to be sold through their website and online shop. The website enables these women to access a global and international market that they would otherwise have had difficulty accessing. Money made from the sale of the crafts through the Global Girlfriends website allows the women to be paid a salary and also enables money to be reinvested in various projects which support them and the communities where the women are living. Global Girlfriends works directly with these women and the associations and cooperatives that have been created which means that unscrupulous middle men are cut out of the equation.

Some of the projects that Global Girlfriends supports include the Wawoto Kachel project in Uganda (as seen in photos 1 - 3) and the Conserve India project in India (as seen in photos 4 and 5). Wawoto Kachel means walking together and the name is appropriate as Wawoto Kachel is a working co-operative of one hundred and fifty women who are HIV positive. They use ancient skills such as weaving, embroidery and tie and die to create products such as slings, pouches and jewelry (as seen in photos 6 - 9) The sale of these crafts allow them to walk together in unity towards a better life.

Conserve India is a source of hope for three hundred low caste women, who had no employment opportunities before this group was established. The women who are part of the Conserve India group create purses and bags (as seen in photo 10, 11) from recycled waste.The women gather plastic shopping bags from the dumps (as seen in photo 12) in the surrounding areas where they live and bring them back to their workshop. The plastic is thoroughly cleaned, dried and fused together by a process created by one of the association’s co- founders. This fusion process creates a durable fabric which is then sewn into an array of accessories. India has a huge problem with waste and also with poverty. This project enables the women to step out of poverty by earning an income and is also eco friendly.

Stacey Edgar (as seen in photo 13) who has a background in social work with women and children, created Global Girlfriends in 2003. She knew that 1.3 billion people were living on less than $I a day and that seventy percent of these people were women. She decided to do something to help them and created Global Girlfriends, a socially conscious enterprise which operates through the principle of Fair Trade and enables women worldwide to step out of the spiral of poverty. Giving these women an income, allows them to have the basic human right which many of us take for granted, such as being able to feed their children and send them to school.

The story of Global girlfriends is an inspirational one and shows that with some tenacity and a desire to change things, wonderful things can be achieved. Following the success of Global Girlfriends, Stacey Edgar is a sought after speaker in the field of women in the global economy and fair trade.

Global Girlfriends fosters long term links with the women in the projects that they support and Stacey travels regularly to visit and encourage them. This means that the women gain confidence in themselves, as well as the crafts that they create and hence their future.

Those who would like to learn more about the story of Global Girlfriends and the craft projects which they support may want to read the book, ‘Global Girlfriends’ which can be ordered directly from their website,

All photos courtesy of Global Girlfriends, USA