KASHMIR, especially Srinagar, has seen a surge in women led businesses. While there are some large women led businesses, there are even more small home-based ones. These initiatives had initially bourgeoned in the initial part of 2019 but had been intercepted by the unprecedented clampdown following the abrogation of Article 370 imposed indefinitely from 5th of August, 2019. Many of these businesses which operate online had planned to open retail stores to expand but faced an unexpected hindrance because of the political situation in the valley.
Nonetheless, these online women-led businesses have made a comeback. Most of these businesses deal with clothing, jewellery, confectionery, home décor and the beauty industry. Many have started exclusive labels of designer clothing and have led the way in reinvigorating Kashmiri handicrafts. Home bakers based in different parts have created a niche for themselves and are being preferred over some of the most trusted confectionery chains in Kashmir. We’ve even had female businesses focused on indigenous, organic and ethical skincare. Makeup is a big industry in Kashmir especially for weddings. A need for female videographers and photographers has also been expressed by many for personal events. More and more women are taking up these unconventional roles.
Interestingly, these businesses are convenient for single as well as married women. Women who are unfairly considered “unfit” for handling family businesses are rarely entrusted with big investments. With a lack of capital, they could rarely venture to establish anything substantial. This has changed now. The digital space is allowing women to own businesses with little investment and loads of grit.
We need to make a conscious attempt to support local businesses especially those run by women. This will not only make our women monetarily self-sufficient but will also pave the way for many others who may have been discouraged by societal norms. Supporting businesses by women is a simple way of supporting women in general. These may even include single mothers and those women who’ve found themselves alone in an unfair world.
Every society runs the risk of falling for fad. We must, however, stay alert. As a society ridden with a political conflict that has affected every sphere of our lives, we must focus on supporting local businesses and facilitate the economic wellbeing of our community.
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