SHE

 

Self Help Enterprise, commonly known as SHE, is an NGO started in 1986 by a remarkable woman, Shamlu Dudeja.  Working with women in rural villages outside of Kolkata, Shamlu revived the ancient art of kantha.  She and the women of this region took this simple quilting stitch and nurtured it into an art, using exquisite fabrics, ancient patterns, and masterly skills.  But perhaps most importantly, Shamlu realized the power of this craft to elevate the living conditions of the women who practice it.  SHE has used the earnings from the sale of these textiles to provide health care, clean water, and indoor toilets to rural women artisans.  Shamlu’s shakti (power) has not only revived an art form, but empowered thousands of women in Bengal villages.  Her daughter, Malika, has continued leading the organization, successfully promoting these luxury textiles to a wider audience.  And now a third generation of Dudeja women is continuing the work of making sure the proceeds from these sales improve the life of rural Bengali women.