Excerpts from the September 2021 Newsletter
Taya here. Before we share our own Divineya Society news, I wanted to take a moment to touch upon the situation in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan – in our thoughts
Witnessing the decades of war and violence within the Afghanistan region is a heartbreaking experience. It drives home the immense privilege I possess simply by having the luck to have been born in a country like Canada. Not only have I never experienced the insecurity, violence, and oppression faced by Afghani women, it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever face this kind of threat in my lifetime.
It’s difficult to see and hear the troubling stories in the media. It’s easy to fall into sadness and despair for the plight of these women and their families. Feeling able to help in any significant way feels almost impossible at times. Are we just helpless to enact meaningful change?
llA powerful force
Despite these thoughts, I have to remind myself of the strength and resilience of women. We are a powerful force, and I have faith in the creativity, support, and solidarity of women for themselves – and their communities.
Though uncertainty and insecurity are rampant, the power of community will continue to drive positive action. Though we may not be directly on the ground, our message of solidarity, support and compassion is a transformative one that can inspire and enact change. This is why Divineya’s work carries so much meaning for me – and hopefully for others, too.
Solidarity, self-awareness, meaningful change
Divineya Society stands in solidarity with the Afghani women and their communities. We recognize our fellow sisters and acknowledge the challenges they face. We’re privileged to not have to live through the intense experiences these women do. Sometimes, simply recognizing this fortune gives us the self-awareness to engage in meaningful action.
We feel for all women across the world who suffer from inequalities and oppression. Our vision is to uplift and build the networks, tools and support systems to enable global empowerment for women and their communities, one step at a time.
A Gathering of Women: Sakhi Kunj
One of the major aspects of our work at Divineya Society is finding tangible ways to directly increase women’s autonomy. We want to ensure our work is not just surface level or philosophical, so we need to have direct physical actions on the ground. In India many women must obey their husbands. They have very little control over finances, and even leaving the house is often determined or regulated by their husbands or male relatives.
Our partner, Meera Arya, decided one of the best ways to facilitate greater autonomy and control for these women is to give them a safe space to gather together outside the house. Meera is the director of Sakhi Kunj, our partner organization in India. Sakhi Kunj has provided women with vocational training in sewing textiles such as yoga mat bags, as well as traditional yogic jewellery, mala necklaces, and bracelets.
Direct Fair Trade opportunities
There’s not much of a market for these products in the rural areas of India where these women are based. This is where Divineya Society comes in! We import the products our women make to Canada, where we’re able to sell them in Fair Trade and more demanding markets. These sales allow our women in India to generate greater earnings and therefore more promising careers and futures within their community.
More respect, more freedom
The wages we’re able to provide also give the women more standing within their family units. They gain more respect and freedom from their male relatives through this work and show they are just as capable of financially providing for the family as the men. This work helps promote wage and career equality and helps create more open-minded ideas about women’s roles within the community.
As Divineya Society grows, we’re hoping to provide even more vocational training for our women. We aim to set up scholarships for higher education and career paths, working to establish a sustainable system in which the women can work for their own benefit, while also strengthening the larger community.
We can then:
Grow our product lines
Encourage women to explore artistic passions and ideas
Engage more deeply with their own traditions and cultural practices in art and crafting
and promote their values and ideas at a more global level.
The importance of valuing Indian culture & traditions
This kind of cultural exchange not only opens our eyes here in western countries to the types of art and symbolism that are important for women in India, but it also allows women in India to realize the value of their own cultural practices. It also helps to prevent the women from feeling pressured to conform to western ideas of art, clothing and textiles.
Stay tuned for more updates on our plans to secure a gathering space for our women of Sakhi Kunj.