Indien: Nasreen Bano

In this competitive world, it is a must for every woman to undergo some vocational training. A woman should fit herself as a prominent pillar of the family."

— Nasreen Bano

Nasreen Bano (born 1978) has been working as a community mobilizer and trainer at the Self-Employed Women's Association (Sewa) in Lucknow for more than a decade. While she exhorts women to find economic independence and security, Nasreen also directs them to train more women in their art-the resurgent chikankari, the traditional embroidery of Uttar Pradesh that Sewa has lately brought back to the limelight.

Nasreen Bano's mother enquired about opportunities at the Sewa after her husband died. Nasreen, then eight, tagged along when her mother joined Sewa. Nasreen, therefore, practically grew up in Sewa, training, as the years went by, in chikankari. Then, she took on the role as a trainer and mobilizer. Today, she heads a team of 2500 women artisans. Nasreen's mobilizing technique includes not only encouraging women to find economic independence and security, but also training more women. Nasreen has been working on these issues for more than ten years. During this period, she has trained and provided self-employment to more than 500 women artisans. The average monthly income of each woman artisan has grown from 1000 to 1200 rupees. Hailing from a conservative Muslim family, Nasreen had to fight many prejudices to retain her status as an economically independent woman. Her mother, though, has been extremely open and supportive. Today, Nasreen's work has inspired hundreds of women artisans in Uttar Pradesh. Soft-spoken and gentle, Nasreen is a pillar of strength for many girls whose education she supports in every way she can. Her youth apart, her skills in chikankari are superlative and comprehensive-from sourcing raw materials to marketing the finished product. Her outstanding quality is her eagerness to share her skills with other women. Nasreen's world does not stop at herself.

Self-Employed Women's Association (Sewa)-Lucknow