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Sales centre for handicrafts of women artisans closed

KARACHI: The Sindh government sales and display resource centre established last year to promote handicrafts and other products of women entrepreneurs and artisans from less developed areas of the province has been closed since January, it emerged on Saturday.

Sources privy to the project said the sales and display resource centre was shifted from the premises of the women development directorate in Block-6 of PECHS in May 2012. The centre established as an annual development project of the Sindh government was inaugurated by the Sindh minister for women development at the State Life building-4, near the PIDC building.

The new site for the centre was selected in view of its location in a busy commercial area and also to attract visitors from abroad and other cities of Pakistan who stayed at the two nearby multiple-star hotels, but failed to function properly as some high-ups wished to relocate it to some privately rented premises in the city, said a source giving the reasons behind the closure of the display centre.

It is said that the scheme was aimed at socio-economic development of skilled women from low-income group areas of Sindh. While promoting their skills, the women development department also wanted to provide them a direct access to national and international markets, eliminating the chances of exploitation by middlemen, said an official, adding that showcasing of products coming from the traditional cottage industries managed by rural women was initiated about eight years back.

The idea was to encourage and support the rural women who had difficulties in selling their products due to their poor marketing skills. Like the display centres that started in PECHS, the State Life centre allowed free display of articles produced by women for sale.

For the purpose, a comprehensive database of women artisans of Sindh was also maintained and orders were communicated to them directly.

Moreover, various resource committees comprising resource persons, government officials and NGO representatives also worked at the district level to collect handicrafts from village women artisans, said another source, lamenting the collapses of all relevant settings and alleging that it was the officialdom that failed to convince the minister and others at the helm about the benefits of running the resource centre near the PIDC complex.

Repeated visits to the newly established sales and display resource centre showed that the facility was being badly neglected. There was no attendant and only a couple of dusty ‘rullies’, and traditional bedspreads and a baby dress could be seen, through the glass sheet, hanging on the walls. About half a dozen cabins were seen deserted with no fixture.

According to another source in the women development directorate, while the authorities got entangled in the idea of hiring a new private building in some posh areas, the shortage of staff at the women development department also prompted the closure of the ‘ambitious project’, which had a budgetary sanction of about Rs27 million till the last financial year.

When contacted, a senior officer at the women development department, Musarrat Jabeen, said the department was serious about the revival of the resource centre and necessary measures had recently been discussed at a meeting.

It was a right tool to change the socio-economic conditions of rural skilled women and efforts were on to revamp the sales and display resource centre at its existing place, with a system of exhibitions of artisan products across the province, she said.

More than 20 shows at the Expo Centre and various other places across the province had been arranged during the past few years, providing over 150 stalls to women artisans free of cost, she added.

Source: http://dawn.com/2013/05/05/sales-centre-for-handicrafts-of-women-artisans-closed/

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