The Power of Women's Artisanship
Recent studies have shown the transformative power of artisanship: handicrafts provide a space of multicultural recognition, represent memorialization for second and third generation migrants, hold potential for trauma expression, and a vessel to communicate a unified message that we are all part of one human family – all this while creating a platform for women to sustain themselves economically. This program describes how Women Forward International (WFI), a nonprofit that partners graduate students with organizations to make their research of service to humanity applicable today, is making the economic empowerment of artisan women possible.
A Craftwomen's Collective and Community Building in Jamaica
Historically, the inner-city neighborhood of Rose Town in Kingston, Jamaica has been divided between North and South by two rival factions, arising from the political divisions and violence that grew in Jamaica in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the government took drastic action to curb the violence and razed the middle section of the neighborhood, demolishing houses and buildings to create a barren ‘no man’s land’ between the two communities. The violence continued however, with unemployment, food insecurity and poor sanitary conditions increasingly entrenched. Following a visit by HRH The Prince of Wales, The Prince’s Foundation began supporting the local community in their efforts to reconcile the divided neighborhood and improve the quality of life for all residents.
WFI is collaborating with The Prince’s Foundation, Rose Town Foundation, and Kingston Creative on a three-year development plan focusing on the creation of a cohort of local artisans who will develop the craft skills necessary to earn a living selling unique high quality textile products to both a local market and an international fashion market. The artisans will create handmade crochet items, which may utilize natural dye techniques traditional to the Foundation at Dumfries House in conjunction with crop production from the Rose Town farm in the dye process. The program will engage females who are at risk of domestic violence or young mothers who may find the flexible working model that comes from being a self-employed crafts person appealing. The aim is to create employment that is long-lasting where the artisans can grow and rise in responsibility, income, skills, and management while transmitting beauty and love into the world.
Launch WFI’s first year of collaboration with the Rose Town Foundation & The Prince’s Foundation to set up and operationalize the “18 to 80” program which will provide women with the tools and training to create and sell their craftwork, and offer resources and workshops on self-defense, reproductive health, and financial management.
Mothers who have slipped through the net, who did not graduate high school, who had their children early: they are lifting themselves out of poverty with the support of WFI in collaboration with @PrincesFound. Together we support a new life for Jamaican women!
Ruth Jankee presents a painting of Rosetown Community Center to HRH the Prince of Wales, September 2022