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UNESCO holds Workshop in Kalash Valley to link local crafts women with markets

Chitral, 23 September 2017: UNESCO held a workshop in Chitral, titled "Crafty Creations: Linkages to Empower Kalasha Women". This workshop concluded the Australian-funded project, "Socio Economic Empowerment of Kalash Women through
Making of Traditional Products using Contemporary Approach".

Kalasha women were traditionally in possession of numerous craft skills, not the least of which include weaving and embroidery skills-that their colorful dresses are an example of. In recent years, the quantity and quality of craft work has been deteriorating, due to poverty constraints, as well as lack of access to markets. This project aimed to contribute to the preservation of the skills unique to Kalasha women by producing marketable products that carry the distinct stitches and colors of the Kalash valley.

In order to economically empower Kalasha women, while also safeguarding their unique cultural practices, the workshop was held to ensure the sustainability of the project by establishing market linkages. The project took a novel approach to craft-making, in that traditional methods of weaving, sewing, and bead-work were used to create contemporary products such as laptop bags, cushion covers, and mobile pouches. During the course of the one day workshop, a consultant conducted training sessions on high quality craft-production, fair wage negotiation, and social media marketing. Entrepreneurs from 3 large-scale enterprises were invited and took part in the workshop in order to link Kalasha women to well-established businesses.

The project-implemented by Hashoo Foundation - resulted in the training of 80 Kalasha women, a small subset of which were chosen to participate in the workshop, and pass down their knowledge through a trickle-down method to the rest of the trainees. Along with UNESCO and Hahsoo Foundation staff, members of the Australian High Commission were in attendance, including Second Secretary to the Australian High-Commission, Hugh Boylan, and Mateen Amin (Political, Economic and Program Officer).

In his opening address, Mr. Boylan stressed the importance of efforts geared towards gender equality, and iterated the Australian High Commission's commitment to it. He applauded UNESCO and Hashoo Foundation's efforts in the implementation of the project, and stated his appreciation of the Kalasha women's commitment to their work.