Every day, about 200 girls and women enter the illegal trafficking business in India. 80% of them do so against their will, according to the Vicente Ferrer Foundation. To put an end to this scourge, it is necessary to implement legislative, institutional, and social measures, with the presence of women at all levels of representation, and to redouble efforts to change beliefs and attitudes in order to achieve real social change.
Currently, 47% of women are forced to marry before reaching the age of majority. An estimated 12 million girls have been selectively aborted over the past three decades, and between 25,000 and 100,000 women are killed each year in dowry disputes.
Founded by sisters Colleen and Maggie Clines, Anchal contributes to this social change by producing artisan apparel that is hand-stitched, ethically made, and tailored from organic cotton canvas that is certified GOTS. Both sisters have a background in design, and everything started when Colleen went on a trip to India in 2009 with the Rhode Island School of Design.
This was where her eyes were opened to the exploitative environments in which many women must suffer without decent work opportunities. This was when she became determined to take their NGO project of Anchal beyond the classroom, and address the palpable social and economic inequalities that are prevalent in many parts of the world.
Anchal launched as a non-profit social enterprise that creates signature textiles with innovative geometric patterns. By using traditional, artisanal methods of hand-stitching and tailoring, Anchal creates versatile apparel as well as home decor with organic cotton.
Combatting Economic Inequality and Sex Trafficking
So far, the brand has trained over 150 women, of which all come from extremely oppressive and impoverished backgrounds. If it weren’t for these work opportunities, many of these women would have been forced into the commercial sex trade or even trafficking. Thanks to Anchal’s support, these women are purchasing property for the first time, have their own bank accounts, and are sending their children to private education. By giving these women full-time employment, they’re making up to 50% more money than they would have as a sex workers, in addition to learning valuable skills that keep these traditional crafts alive.
For Anchal, these women are more than employees, rather they make up unified sisterhood that is committed to making positive social change, and empowering women all over the world. The brand uses eco-friendly and low-impact dyes, as well as vintage fabrics.
The Fair Trade Federation
Anchal is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, the brand is fully committed to fair trade principles. The FTF is a nonprofit trade organiaztion which provides support to North American businesses that share the same ideals. To be a part of this movement, businesses must promote a system that pays fair wages, and creates sustainable trading relationships based on transparency and equity.