Sunday, January 27, 2013

Empowering Women with Clay Beads : Kazuri Beads and Samunnat Beads

Life is not easy but for many women in some parts of the world, life is especially difficult. Job opportunities are few and women are especially disadvantaged when they are uneducated.  It's not all bad news though. There are success stories like Kazuri Beads, the well known hand made ceramic beads from Kenya.


Kazuri means small and beautiful in Swahili and that perfectly describes the lovely beads coming out of the workshop just outside Nairobi in the very same spot that Karen "Out of Africa" Blixen once lived.  It got its start over 30 years ago.

Some 300 women and men make the beads that are now sold worldwide.  They are paid fair wages.  The unemployment is so high each of these lucky artisans typically support an extended family of 20 or so members.


This video shows the Kazuri Bead Factory.



Paulette Walther tipped me off that KazuriWest is now distributing the beautiful polymer bead creations of Samunnat, a non-profit organization which helps Nepalese women escape domestic violence and human trafficking.  Domestic violence is ugly but is particularly brutal in societies where women are not valued. These women are often uneducated with few options to escape let alone earn a decent living.

It is important to note that fewer women in severely gender imbalanced Asian countries such as India and China do not necessarily make women worthier.  Instead, it is increasingly leading to more rape and violence against them, forced prostitution and human trafficking - young women and girls sold by poor families to the highest bidder.


Samunnat began when a group of selfless friends including Australian artist and therapist Wendy Moore and Nepalese attorney Kopila Basnet decided to help these desperate women who had no one to turn to.  With Samunnat, women are thus able to support themselves and their children with beautiful beads they make and sell. As Wendy says,  "art becomes income, education , food, medicine, and hope for a brighter future."



Both Kazuri and Samunnat beads will be available for sale at the upcoming Tucson Bead Show. (Small and Beautiful Beads - booth at "Tucson 22nd Street Show", January 31st-February 17th, Antelope Beads at “To Bead True Blue,” located at the Doubletree Tucson Reid Park, February 3rd-8th). 

Can't get to the Tucson show this year? Samunnat (finished jewelry)are also available through their Etsy Store. KazuriWest will soon have the loose beads on their website.

Canadians can purchase Kazuri beads through Karibu Beads. US readers should check out the various distributors on Kazuri Beads USA. There are also Kazuri distributors in other countries like the UK and Australia.  Just google it!

References
Before You Go:
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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 

12 comments :

zoraida said...

This is a wonderful, powerful post! I'm sure many people have no clue about these women, their situation and their craft.

I will be pinning, tweeting and posting this on facebook along with the accompanying links.

Zoraida

Pearl Blay said...

Thanks Zoraida for not just your kind words about this blog but for understanding the need for spreading the word. They need all the help we can give!

A Half-Baked Notion said...

Pearl, thank you for sharing these two examples of craft helping to lift women out of hopelessness. Though I know of other African bead coops, I was unaware of the Kazuri group.

Pearl Blay said...

Then, I am glad my post was useful in spreading awareness!

crazycatladybj said...

Very informative post. I will be pinning this in hopes of spreading awareness.

Charis Designs said...

Those poly clay beads are gorgeous!! I went on their Etsy site but there's only finished jewelry. I grew up in India,and yes, the women are treated like chattel there, but have never been to Nepal. I'd love to be able to buy these beads to use in my own designs- unfortunately, Tucson isn't within my reach this year. Thanks for a great story. I was familiar with Kazuri but not the Sammunat beads. Christie

Paulette Walther said...

Hi Pearl,

What a fabulous job you did writing this article!!! Your writing skills are beautiful, powerful and meaningful.

Women empowering women - it doesn't get much better than that. Thank you so much for your support of our ladies groups. They will be so excited and grateful.

I really appreciate you and all that you do.
warm regards, Paulette

Pearl Blay said...

Christie- you can get the Samunnat beads through KazuriWest either at the Tuscon show or through their website (very soon).

Anonymous said...

Pearl, thank you so much from some very excited Nepali ladies (and one equally excited Australian one) for writing about us here at Samunnat! We are a small but very enthusiastic group and are so grateful for the support and encouragement that people, especially women, from the beading and craft community are giving us. Christi, you will be able to locate our loose beads via Kazuri's website and we would LOVE to see photos of how you use them in your designs! Pearl, again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Wendy Moore and Kopila Basnet (Samunnat Nepal)

Willi said...

What a wonderful post! This is an inspiring story and the beads are beautiful!

Willi said...

Your comment is heartwarming!

Pearl Blay said...

It was a pleasure and honor to write about Samunnat and help promote the bead initiative! I am delighted there are excited ladies out in Nepal!

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