Rekha Doley, 25 years of age, hails from a Mishing Village in Panbari, Assam. She is married to a school teacher who is the sole bread winner of a family of 11 members. She was taught weaving by her mother and has been doing so since the early age of 6. All the weaving she had done prior to being a part of ISE was for her family and herself. Weaving, it seems was never seen as a commercial occupation by these women since getting monetary beneficial returns was non-existent in Assam.
But times have changed! ISE through the Empower label has brought a whole new dimension to weaving for these women. Rekha is now weaving for the Empower label and supervises other artisans in her village. Additionally, she helps and supports other women of her village who also weave for Empower.
Rekha recently spoke to ISE staff about her thoughts on ISE and the Empower label. She confessed that she had considered leaving Assam at one point of time in order to search for better employment opportunities elsewhere to support her family. She also knows numerous other people like her who have been deceived and forced to leave Assam for economic reasons. Due to this she says, her heart connects with the goals and values of Empower, which is to reduce unsafe migration leading to human trafficking in Assam by supporting women to have their own income source through weaving.
The sense of pride and happiness felt from earning money for her family is priceless. Being a part of ISE and weaving for the Empower label has truly “empowered” the women of her village. The fact that these designs are being made available in the overseas market heightens her joy and pride since it is not only helping her support her family but also popularizing the Mishing culture and tradition in the global market itself.
She expresses a deep sense of gratitude towards ISE for enabling her to be an independent woman with the choice of not having to leave her beloved home. She dreams of using the income she gets not just for supporting her own family but also for her community by helping women collectively develop the resources of their village.