Conjure up an image of a goddess. What do you see? A magnificent creature, adorned and adored. Powerful no doubt, with the ability to bestow favour, retribution and even life itself.
According to mythology, our own namesake, the West African creator-goddess Mawu, created the earth and everything upon it. Mawu - a powerful female deity - also created humans, bestowing upon them Sekpoli (the breath of life), ruling their destinies on earth and beyond it.
But what about those ordinary women who are, well… ordinary? The women who run mundane day to day life, households, who raise children? Women who still have the power of creation - be it precious new life or beautiful handicrafts full of soul and stories, but whose circumstances mean that daily life is hardship and subject to inequality at every turn? How do we give power to these women?
At Lola & Mawu, we are passionate about many things: artistry, preserving culture and traditions and sourcing fair trade hand-made treasures for your home. Most importantly though, we believe in empowering ordinary women any way we can – developing our own goddesses of creation, if you like. Our women artisans not only create beautiful objects, but through selling their crafts they create a stronger future for themselves, their families and their communities.
So, why is the empowerment of women in these communities so essential?
Well, starting from the bottom up – enabling women in poor rural communities to earn a livelihood and express themselves through creativity and imagination transforms them into role models. These women inspire young girls to have confidence in themselves and their abilities, and perhaps cast off the shackles of the ‘traditional’ roles of women in rural Africa and achieve their full potential.
Unlike many male artisans, who are able to dedicate all of their time to craft, for female artisans craftwork is carried out in between working in the fields and caring for their families. Being able to earn a separate income is incredibly empowering. It provides security and independence in a society where money is usually controlled by the head of the family. It puts women in charge of their own lives, propelling them onto the path of equality.
As well as financial benefits, art and craft-making help women establish a sense of self-worth and dignity; women are receiving acknowledgement and praise for their creations. Being able to create beauty with your own hands, and more importantly to be proud of what you have achieved, is undoubtedly a powerful potion. It contributes to a crucial sense of ‘self’ and offers women an identity and independence outside of the home.
Older women in the community are also essential to the industry; they are the guardians who ensure the preservation of the high standards and methods of traditional craft. Within an artisanal community, age is no barrier as these women become the defenders of vital crafting skills, passed down from generation to generation. As the demand for and commercial value of hand-made artisanal objects increases, these skills become treasures in their own right.
Lola & Mawu are incredibly proud of the positive changes that we can generate through supporting these communities of women artisans – our own goddesses of creation.