100 years of International Women’s day- Flotea’s Story

On Tuesday 8th March 2011 the world will mark 100 years of International Women Day and we are bringing you the personal stories of the women that make Ethnic Supplies tick! yesterday we heard about Sabina an internally displaced refugee from Northern Uganda

Today we are in Tanzania  to introduce you to Flotea Masawe>

Flotea is an amazing woman who left school at a very young age with no qualification to speak of this meant that she was excluded from formal employment and the only skills she had were embroidery skills.  she started out by making table linen and curtains for her own home, when her neighbours saw the quality of her work they asked if she could make home furnishings for them too and soon word had got out and she had a list of customers.

She soon outgrew the space in her two room house, and had to extend it, as well as widening her range to include African tote bags.

Flotea’s idea has grown beyond her imagination and today she employees 30 women from the slums of Dar es Salaam. She shares what skills she has with women less fortunate than she is through workshops on textile production and designFlotea ‘s view about poverty in Africa “I pity any African who believes that some external person/outsider will come and resolve our problems, because I tell you what they will be waiting for a long time”

Women that work with Flotea at her Dar es Salaam work shop

Flotea believes  that the government merely plays lip service to women’s issues and that in fact unless women work together to share skills and resources they are unlikely to succeed. She told me that there are large numbers of women in Tanzania involved in textile production however there is no institution where these women can go and learn about textile and design. They instead rely on skills sharing where those who know teach those that do not. In her mind this is the one thing that would change life for most women especially the slum dwellers.

Other challenges included

  • Lack of IT and communication skills
  • Access to markets the lack of information means  they don’t always know what market demands are

I spent the rest of the afternoon and the best part of the evening with Flotea and her team and I taught them how to use email and PICASA Google’s photographs programme. this would enable them to share photos of their products with folk all over the world. Flotea appreciated this and as I left her she told me this is what we need people to come in and share what they know with us!

TO SUPPORT FLOTEA’S EFFORT TO LIFT OTHER WOMEN OUT OF POVERTY PLEASE CONSIDER BUYING ONE OF HER AFRICA TOTES  AT ETHNIC SUPPLIES ONLINE SHOP DSC_1788s

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