Cottage Industry plays an important role in economic growth of women working from home and in rural areas as they are not encouraged to work outside their homes. In Pakistan, approximately 65 per cent of women earn their livelihood from handicraft work and has a significant impact on financial status of their households. The range of handicraft products include candle making, ajrak, ceramics, rugs, musical instruments, caps, straw products, bangles, crochet work, embroideries, carpets and woodcarving.
If given due importance to cottage industry it can act as a catalyst for the economic development of the country. They cover large number of people which effects the social structure through the possibility of absorbing rural labor, which would otherwise be unemployed during parts of the year. It also strengthens the position of women in the society as their participation increases active labor force, and allows established organizations to contact them and get the work done. Mostly women working from home have no access to market place to sell their products, so working with organized groups facilitate them with provision of material and also in disposal of their products.
Women empowerment is impossible without the economic participation of women and for this, women has to be encouraged to take part in business decisions and occupying a leadership position. Handicrafts sector is the only sector that is directly linked with the skills of women so there is dire need to better tap this segment.
We need to explore ways to inject the thought in every one’s minds of women’s empowerment and gender equality. There is a need to focus and devise strategies to enhance women’s role in decision-making and power sharing in all activities. Negative attitude of policymakers, gender inequality, lack of education, and absence of credit facilities, are the hurdles in making women financially independent. We all need to change our mindset about women and participate in raising awareness that their contribution has an impact and should be translated into income generation as per the effort they put in producing the products.
The major problem in expansion and growth of small scale is the shortage of capital as women has tendency to spend the money on household rather than reinvesting. In such situation they depend on organizations and ultimately settle on low wages.
It is also observed that investors of small scale industry are not fully aware of the new innovations therefore stick to old methods. The craftsmen and artisans mostly inherit the knowledge and the method of production from their elders and there is no provision of learning of new techniques and training which impacts the industry.
They are not aware of needs of international market therefore in Pakistan it is seen that most of the goods produced by them are generally sold in the local markets.
Cottage industry is mostly placed in rural areas therefore facilities like continuous availability of electricity, lack of storage place affects the production badly. They don’t have any credit facility so to buy new tools and meet other expenses also slow down the process.
Everybody recognizes the importance of cottage and small scale industry but measures taken are not enough to overcome the hurdles in the way of development of these industries. Government has very significant role in development of this industry. They with the help of NGOs should device policy to develop leadership qualities, confidence building, gender awareness and making them understand their rights with respect to wages in commensurate with their effort and time they allocate for these activities. They should also focus on women’s health, education, technical skills, infrastructure development, and develop it into an export based industry. Artisans should also be appreciated of their abilities and efforts they put in to achieve the targets.