Profile of: Women’s Skills Development Organization, Nepal
Words by Emily Lush, Photos & video by WSDO
One of the largest and longest-running textile NGOs in Nepal’s Pokhara Valley, Women’s Skills Development Organization (WSDO) was founded in 1975 by a group of rural craftswomen. Entrepreneur and women’s rights advocate Ramkali Khadka joined the NGO in 1977, galvanising a vocational training program in traditional Nepalese weaving and dyeing.
Many of WSDO’s 500-plus female artisans live with a disability. They are trained in different areas of handicraft production depending on their interests and abilities. In addition to knitting, sewing and braiding, WSDO artisans hand-weave a contemporary version of Dhaka fabric, one of the oldest and most significant textiles in Nepal.
Dhaka weaves are known for their vivid colours and geometric designs that range from figurative motifs drawn from nature to abstract patterns. Artisans at WSDO work with a mix of imported Indian cotton and allo wool, a novel material harvested from nettle plants that grow in the Nepalese Himalaya.
Skeins are naturally dyed with colours extracted from tea, persimmon, pomegranate and Nepalese hops. The fabric is woven on backstrap looms before being cut and sewn into modern products, such as handbags and toys. WSDO’s main export market is Japan, Korea and Taiwan. WSDO operates according to fair trade principles and is invested in economic and social empowerment for disadvantaged Nepalese women. Visit the WSDO website.