OTPYM - The Bracelet Economy
Originally Published in OTPYM, June 12, 2018
Women and children are the most vulnerable in any crisis situation. The narrative of their suffering and vulnerability writes itself, making it all too easy to relate to potential donors. The baseline logic is sound. It would be great if the women can bring in some monetary assistance to the household. Independent income is the first step in women’s empowerment. One must have skills in order to earn a living so what is the easiest skill to teach? Handicraft.
Earrings, bracelets, tote bags, knitted scarfs, hats and tea cozies. Let’s get some sewing machines donated and teach them how to sew! In every crisis country, you will find someone leading refugees in making handicraft. In every developing country, you can find people hawking the same wares.
Is this really the best skills to be teaching? Or is it simply the by-product of inherent biases? We need to reexamine how we think about funding nonprofits and what we are willing to support with our dollars.