Empowering women through embroidery

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If you’re on the hunt for a Christmas gift that will make more than one person smile, then look no further.

A great range of handmade fashion and interior accessories crafted by women in Madagascar are available to buy, supporting a initiative to empower people through embroidery.

Pictured from left are embroiderers in Madagascar, Kazy Anastasy, Vololonirina Marie Cleire, Rasoamihanta Elyse

Pictured from left are embroiderers in Madagascar, Kazy Anastasy, Vololonirina Marie Cleire, Rasoamihanta Elyse

The project began over four years ago when an arts lecturer from Leeds visited the African island for what she thought was going to be a relaxing holiday.

But Sarah Brown was shocked by the level of poverty and the few options available to the country’s women.

She left her job and home in the UK to move to a small village in the south east of Madagascar called Sainte Luce.

There she used her embroidery skills to teach women how to put their creativity to use in a project that has been named Stitch Sainte Luce.

The project is now helping the women earn a much-needed wage and has attracted an army of happy customers.

And now, a recently-launched website is helping to sell the women’s beautiful, original and creative produce, which ranges from stylish cushions and purses to original belts and iPad cases, worldwide.

Sarah said: “When we first set up Stitch, the women were all living below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. They were so motivated to learn so that they could provide enough food, clothes, educate their children, pay for medicine, mend their houses.

“Their earnings have transformed their lives not only economically, but in terms of gender empowerment at the household level too.

“They have learned so many different skills and have a real professional pride about their embroidery and about running the studio, which is such a remarkable achievement!

“What makes the products extra special is that not only do you know exactly where your money is going, but each piece is unique, a one of a kind design which makes it the perfect gift.”

For more information or to view the products, visit Stitch Sainte Luce