Research Proposal: Empowerment of Women through Weaving Arts

Farida Naz, Seldon, Dorji, Shafia
12 May 2014
There is a lot of interest in women’s empowerment and especially through their economic activities. One form of economic activity that women have been involved with in diverse areas in South Asia has been weaving. More specifically, in Bhutan and Pakistan, women have been more involved in weaving arts than men. However, very little is known about how the experience of weaving benefits women, especially when they are located in more remote areas. Therefore, this research attempts to explain and describe how women in Khoma, Bhutan and Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan are benefiting through weaving arts? The motivation of this study is pure because we will be collecting information on women weavers as we are interested in learning more about women empowerment. However, it will also include some aspects of applied knowledge because we will submit our findings to the relevant government departments in both the countries. Since, both the chosen areas are remote and have less resources and also there is less research done on women weavers in these areas, our aim is to explore the role of women in upholding the household condition. This study is interesting because it will be comparing women weavers from two communities, which have very different cultural and religious background. Azid et al and Dev et al have looked at the problems that might have an effect on the income of weavers in Multan and Andhra Pradesh, respectively. This research also attempts to discover the hindrances that might have an effect on the earnings of the women weavers. Based on the different kind of hindrances, our study will also give some suggestions and remedies on how these problems can be overcome by the help of government or developmental NGO’s.
The population for this research is all women weavers in Khoma, Bhutan and Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan. The study population will be the number of women weavers to whom we will have access and sample for this research will be the number participants in our survey. The sampling frame will be achieved by collecting data from the head of departments of weaving factories. We will also ask people in the respective areas about the women weavers. Once the women weavers are approached they will be asked to fill a consent form and based on their approval we will go through a set of questionnaires to collect our expected data.
To select the participants for the survey, we will use simple random sampling because the areas under study are small and we can have list of all population from that area. In addition to this, we will select simple random sampling because we can get good sampling frame as study population is geographically concentrated in small areas. Further, we do not need to travel far to collect data. The research done by Shahnaz Kazi and Bilquees Raza, also used simple random sampling as they were studying women’s participation in labour markets in small population (Raza et al). Thus, we have sample of 60 women weavers, 30 from each respective area. As we belong to those areas, we will go to the participants’ home to collect data. The unit of analysis of this research is the women weavers in Khoma, Bhutan and Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Since this research focuses on the economic contribution of women in upholding the household needs, the units of observation will be the women interviewees from whom the data will be collected.
The time design used for this study will be cross sectional, because women weavers in both the areas will be studied once in a particular time. The reason for choosing this time design is because there is very less research done in these areas and the previous records are not easily accessible for references. Also, it is a remote area and due to lack of budget, cross sectional design is suitable. We are also not interested in studying the changes in the household conditions of these women over the period of time, because it is not feasible for us.
Several researches have been done in the field of weaving. According to Costin, usually women are engaged in domestic production like weaving and cloth production, which was economically valuable item for the large group of people as labor for a long time in Prehispanic Andes and benefits their household (123). In another study, Renee focused on hand woven cloth production which was adopted by women after it was abandoned by Ekiti men in Yoruba. Khan and Khan on women in the urban informal sector have written about the different indicators of poverty, such as “household per-capita income”, “Husband’s Educational Level and Employment Status,” which increases the pressure on women to work for the survival of the family (87). These researches are similar to our research so, it will help us to understand how research was done and what kind of problems they faced and how they overcome those challenges.
This study is interested in seeing whether weaving benefits women. The idea of benefits can be understood as part of the empowerment process. Jude Fernando in his article, focuses on the role of Nongovernmental Organizations and Micro-Credits in empowerment of women workers. Fernando defines women empowerment as the institutional environment which ensures women’s control “over material assets, and intellectual resources” (155). In addition to this, the author also believes that only awareness about women’s right cannot be sufficient to empower women in any field. Instead, to enable women to have influence in any institution they should have power to monitor things and they should also be economically sound (Fernando 157).
The key concepts for this research will be women empowerment, autonomy of women weavers, and economic benefits for women weavers in these areas. According to the World Bank,
“Empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. Central to this process is actions which both build individual and collective assets, and improves the efficiency and fairness of the organizational and institutional context which govern the use of this asset” (“Empowerment”).
Based on the definition of empowerment by the World Bank, empowerment, in this study, has been defined in terms of income of the women weavers that helps them to use it in different possible helpful ways. The limitation of this definition is that it will not include other aspects of empowerment, such as, effects of earning on social status of women and we also do not include collective assets of women weavers in both the areas; rather, this research will focused on individuals.
Autonomy of women has been conceptualized in terms of self sufficiency of women weavers such as how much they can contribute to fulfill their dreams and household needs. Hence, studies have shown that many women workers in South Africa were able to fulfill their dream of self sufficiency by working in small factories (Scott et al, 556). Economic benefits for women weavers have been defined in terms of their total income and expenditures. We will focus on total output of women weavers as there are different income levels for different skills in weaving art. We will be studying the income and expenditures of different weavers according to their skills.
After observing women doing small scale jobs as weavers in Bhutan and Pakistan, we are curious to know how their earning is contributing to their household needs. Since the research is an inductive one, the study does not propose any hypothesis for now; however, a hypothesis could be proposed at the end using the collected data. Reliability and validity will be achieved by integrating previously used methodologies and concepts by scholars in their research. For instance, Azid at el have explored the hindrances for the women weavers of Multan, such as, “distance from the market” and “lack of information” (1111). Thus, we will also use this concept to design our questionnaire, so that we can know how women weavers’ income might be affected by some hindrances such as access to information and market.
Also, in social Inquiry course (Babbie) certain methods have been given to ensure reliability and validity, such as doing pilot testing and face-validity. Pilot testing will be used in order to check if our methodology is feasible in the chosen area, and whether our questions make sense and give us our desired data. We will do pilot testing with some of the women weavers back in the respective communities. Also, in order to ensure validity, multiple indicators of the key concept benefit will be used, which will include fulfillment of household needs, such as household goods, clothing, and school fees for their children. Our questions will be based on the understanding of the participants, so that it becomes convenient for the participants to respond.
To increase reliability of our research we will be conducting our survey in pairs. This will also be helpful to lessen bias in our study. This study only focused women weavers even though there are so many men weavers; this is one of the main biases of this research. Women weavers have been chosen for this research because the art of weaving is common among women and very less research has been done on them. Secondly, as we will be studying the places where we belong to and almost we know all of them and many of them are our relatives, which may also cause bias in our study. Being insider there are so many advantages to have research in our own areas such as it is easy to build trust, have a comfortable conversation and have access to people. At the same time we have some disadvantages as well, for instance being an insider we may assume many things about our participants and we may ignore many things which may cause to miss some important data. To lessen these biases we will make pairs of one insider and one outsider because it will be helpful in many ways. Being insider we will have easily access to people and the outsider will help us to consider all those things which insider may assume.
The common ethical issues in any survey are related to the information the participants have to share because most of the time people are required to provide information that is not readily available. Therefore, maintaining confidentiality and anonymity is very important. Sometimes even if researchers assure confidentiality people feel uncomfortable after or while sharing certain kinds of information. As our survey will mostly focus on income of women weavers and their economic status which is sensitive topic and most of the time people do not feel comfortable to share their income publicly; therefore, they may feel insecure. To deal with this problem we have to build trust with people to make them feel comfortable. To build trust we will ensure that any information they shared during survey will remain confidential and during study their names will not be used at any point. Further, the data of this survey will be locked in safe places and only researchers and other related people to this research work will have access to these documents.
We are conducting surveys; therefore, our expected strengths of this research are the following. Since; surveys are useful in describing the characteristics of a large population and we will also use collected data from our survey to make a generalized conclusion about women empowerment through weaving art in Khoma, Bhutan and Gilgit, Pakistan. Surveys are also considered more flexible than other moods of observations as survey questions are mostly close ended; therefore, one can respond to many questions in a short span of time. We will be asking the same questions from different people which will also be helpful to get reliability if we get similar response from participants. On the other hand, surveys have some weaknesses as well, most of the time in surveys researchers rarely focus on social life of individuals, but our research is more focusing on social life of women weavers. Our research will be inflexible in some ways because we are only studying women weavers and weaving arts. Limited time for respondents to attempt questions, study specific questions and sudden interference in the life of ordinary people may also cause some kind of inflexibility to this research. To overcome these problems we will inform people about our research before having survey and we will try to provide enough time for the participants to attempt questionnaires. Most of the time researchers believe that surveys are subject to artificiality because researchers construct the unusual situation during surveys which may effect on final results. But our study will not be subject to artificiality, we believe that as most of the people are familiar to us so it will lessen the chances of an artificial situation.
In every research there are certain challenges related to them and it is also true for surveys. As we are going to have surveys in Khoma, Bhutan and Gilgit, Pakistan we also assume that we will also face some challenges. For example, as we are novice researchers so people may doubt our credibility. To overcome these problems and to convince people, we will get help from head of the village and provide a brief description of our study. In this way we may lessen the doubt of villager about our credibility. Secondly, as most of them are farmers, we may face timing problem during their working hours to get access. To deal with this problem we will try to visit people in their free time. Thirdly, we may have difficulty to make people understand questionnaire as many of them are illiterate. To overcome these difficulties we will do pilot testing with some of the women weavers which will give us an idea how to make them understand.
ITEMS UNIT COST QUANTITY TOTAL Comments/justifications
Travel—round trip tickets and visa for one student, Chittagong-Khoma, Bhutan $450

$900 Two students will go to Bhutan, one will be from Bhutan and another will be from Pakistan. This money will cover travel expenses, visa cost for one student and local transport expenses.
Travel –round trip tickets and visa for one student, Chittagong-Gilgit, Pakistan $1550 2 $3100 Two will go to Pakistan, one from Bhutan and another one from Pakistan. This money will cover travel expenses, visa cost for one student and local transport expenses.
Compensation to Participants—Tea and snacks $2 60 $120 We will select 60 participants in total and we will be giving them tea and snacks as an appreciation for letting us collect the data.
Printing Material $0.03 500 $15 We need 60 sets of questionnaire in total to collect data.
(Portable Digital Audio Recorders) 40$ 2
$80 Though we are doing surveys still we need audio recorders because most of the participants will be illiterate. Therefore, we have to record their responses, as we don’t want to miss any information. Further, we need two audio recorders because we are working in pairs.
Contingency 10% To deal with unexpected situation we need to consider contingency. We believe that for any emergency we should be prepared.
Total $4637/-

Asian University for Women AUW Summer Project: Empowerment of Women through Weaving Art.
Introduction: Hello! We would like to ask you some questions about yourself and your family, mostly we will focus on weaving art and how it is helpful for you. Please think carefully about questions and answer as carefully as you can. There is no right or wrong answer. Do you have any questions?
Part I: Close ended questions
Q No Question Code
1 What is your age¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬ ————-
2 Marital status:
a) Married b) Divorced c) Widowed
d) Other
3 How many children do you have?
a) 1 b) 2-3
c) 4-5 d) 6
e) above
4 Who is the head of a family?
a) Myself b) Father
c) Mother d) Husband/ wife
e) Other, (mention if any)
6 Are other family members economically dependent on you?
a) Yes b) No
7 How many weavers are there in your family?
a)One b) Two
c) Three d) More than 3
9 Are you satisfied with your earning?
a) Yes b) No
c) other
11 How often you get help from your family in terms of weaving?
a)Always b) Frequently
c) Sometimes d)Occasionally
c) Never e) Others
12 In a day how much time do you spend in weaving?
a) less than an hour b) 3-4 hour
c) 5-7 hours d) more than 15 hours
13 What is your monthly income from weaving?
a. Less than 1000 b. 1000 to 10,000
c. 10,000 to 50,000 d. 50, 000 to 1,00,000
e. More than 1,00,000
14 How is your income utilized? (You can choose more than one option)
a. Household consumption b. Children’s education
c. Paying Local taxes d. Health
e. Clothing f. All of the above
g. others
15 What is the other source of household income other than weaving?
a. Farming b. Forestry
c. Domestic life d. Local service worker
e. All of the above f. Other
16 What is the range of your personal saving in a month?
a. less than 500 b. 500 to 1000
c. 1000 to 1500 d. 1500 to 2000
e. 2000 and above
17 What is the class status of your family?
a) Lower class b)
Middle class
c) Upper class d) Others
18 To whom do you sell your weaving product?
a. Local people b. Tourist
c. Other community people d. Relevant NGOs
e. Others
19 Where do you go to sell your product?
a. Own village b. Other community
c. Local town d. Capital
e. Others
20 What do you mostly do at home?
a. Weaving b. Looking after kids
c. Doing household chores d. Others
21 Do you think that women weavers are able to support their family needs?
a. Yes b. No
22 How are weavers treated in your society?
a) Badly b) Medium
c) Good d) very good
e) I don’t know

Part II: Open ended questions.
1. What are the hindrances you encounter in the field of weaving?
2. How are you able to overcome these problems?
3. In your opinion what could be done by the governmental institutes and NGOs to help
you to overcome these hindrances?
4. Are you satisfied with the income you earn from weaving?
5. What kind of benefits you get from weaving?

Works Cited

Azid, Toseef, and Muhammad Aslam and Mohammad Omer Chaudhary. “Poverty, Female labour Force Participation, and Cottage Industry: A case Study of Cloth Embroidery
in Rural Multan”Pakistan Institute of development Economics, Islamabad. 40.4 (winter 2001): 1105-1118. JSTOR. Web. 6 March 2014.
Babbie, Earl R. The Basics of Social Research. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub.,
2011. Print.
Costin, Cathy. “Housewives, Chosen Women, Skilled Men: Cloth Production and Social
Identity in the Late Prehispanic Andes.”: 123 to 138. Print. Web.4 May 2014.
Dev, S. Mahendra. “Economics of Handloom Weaving: A Field Study in Andhra Pradesh.”
Economic and Political Weekly 43 (2008): 43-51. JSTOR. 10 May 2014
Fernando, Jude L. “Nongovernmental Organizations, Micro-Credit, and Empowerment of
Women.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 554. The Role of NGOs: Charity and Empowerment (1997): 150-77. JSTOR. Web. 15 Feb.2014.
Kazi, Shahnaz. “Duality of Female Employment in Pakistan [with Comments].” The
Pakistan Development Review 3.4, Papers and Proceedings PART II Seventh Annual General Meeting of the Pakistan Society of Development Economists Islamabad, January 8-10, 1991 (1991): 733-43. JSTOR. Web. 05Mar. 2014.
Khan, Tasnim, and Rana Ejaz Ali Khan. “Urban Informal Sector: How Much Women Are
Struggling for Family Survival.” The Pakistan Development Review 48.1(2009): 67-
95. JSTOR. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.
Renne, Elisha P. ““Traditional Modernity” and the Economics of Hand-woven Cloth
Production in Southwestern Nigeria.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 45 (1997): 773-92. JSTOR. 10 May 2014
Scott, Linda, Catherine Dolan, Mary Johnstone Louis, Kimberly Sugden, and Maryalice
Wu. “Enterprise and Inequality: A Study of Avon in South Africa.” E T & P: 543 to 562. May 2012. Print. Web. 4 May 2014.


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