Women in Maoist-affected Lohardaga district of Jharkhand are stitching their way out of poverty with jute yarn. They make and sell decorative items made using jute threads.
In the rural areas of Lohardaga, the sound of women working on machines has replaced the sound of Maoists' boots.
People in urban areas have developed a taste for eco-friendly products, especially jute handbags, which are now a trend among women and girls.
Displaying one such bag, Taseema Khatoon (34) from Islamnagar in Lohardaga, told IANS: "It takes two days to make this bag which sells for Rs 150-300 depending on the size. Sometimes, it is hard to believe that these are handmade."
Around 130 women from Islamnagar have been doing this work since 2018. Every day women make a variety of items from jute, such as bags, mats, baskets, among others. They sell it in nearby markets, while this is the only source of income for them.
They don't have to worry about procuring raw material and selling the final product in markets as they get financial support and the selling platform from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
There is a lot of demand for their products in the fairs held periodically in this region. The Chhotanagpur Craft Development Society also helps these women.
The majority of these skilled women are from the minority communities. They have also formed a company of their own named Lavapani Craft Private Ltd.
Rukhsana Khatoon and Akhtari Khatoon, who are associated with the company, say it is very convenient for them to work near their homes and earn money.
Amar Kumar Devghariya, who is coordinating the project, says that NABARD is only lending a helping hand but it is the women who are doing the actual hard work.
He said a 'rural mart' was launched last week in Lohardaga where women are selling various types of handmade products.