Cross stitch textiles reduce women's poverty

At the Asia Pacific Feminist Forum, I wasted no time finding the women's craft area. The struggle against the exploitation of migrant labour – domestic and industrial – was a major topic and the products available in the craft area were examples of positive income alternatives.

My eyes went immediately to the needlework of a women’s group from Phayao in northern Thailand. Baan Tho Fan Maetam Group is a social enterprise formed to help earn additional for village women and to provide scholarships to village children who are otherwise easy prey for sexual exploitation.

The group is comprised of an embroidery team of 59 hill tribe women. Mien (i.e., Yao) women are widely known as expert cross stitchers; the beautiful works on display were fine examples. The Maetam Group also includes a sewing team of 7 women who add these decorations onto sturdy cotton bags and pouches.

TAMMACHAT will be selling these wonderfully crafted, fair trade items in the Spring and Summer of 2012, when this group will celebrate their 16th anniversary of providing alternatives to poverty and exploitation.