“Women all over the world are redefining the way they are treated, and the way the world looks at them”- Runa Banerjee

A lady bought the revival of the kaatha and chikankari. She single-handedly brought a revolution to the socio-culture context of the city of Lucknow. She was nominated for a Nobel Prize in the year 2005, Padma Shri Ms. Runa Banerjee, trivializes her achievements with a wave of her delicate hand saying there still remains a lot more to do in a lot more ways!. She set up SEWA (self-employed women association) in Lucknow in 1984, the time she realized that self-employment could be a better answer to the extremity of women chikankari artisans, chikankari is the traditional embroidery work of Utter Pradesh.  With the support of UNICEF supported study on the life of artisans in India, Runa Banerjee began her involvement with chikankari handicraft artisans.

This initiative involved reached to 10000 women and 8000 women more were trained in the knotty, circuitous and intricate craft of chikankari. It has given a new life to all those desperate poor women who were dependent on other’s earning, now are living life on their own earnings independently. This has also revived the ancient and comatose craft of chikankari embroidery.

When asked what SEWA is for her she introduced all the women working there as her “Bacchas” and said, “SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association) is my sweetheart, my child, my world “.


The time she unearthed and discovers that Lucknowi Chikankari was highly exploitive for more women and children she decided to stay and remain there to work for them for furthermore years. Later she realised after her interaction with the women working over there was that only self-sustenance and self-reliance is the solution to their deprivation and indigence and to groom them she supported them in making every need regarding their work, possible and to make it largely available for more of poor women she set up an association which is now widely known for its welfare for women sector; SEWA (self Employed women Association) in 1984 in Lucknow, extending the expertise to other women. Runa mainly focuses socially and economically deprived and exploited women and acknowledge them with more skills and training. Runa works in Lucknow including ten more districts of Utter Pradesh. About 8000 women have been trained in the difficult craft of chikankari, which is today a nationwide fashion rage and has spawned thousands of imitations. SEWA efforts revived the craft of chikankari which had gone into a sharp decline after independence. Chikan now is such a craft with a high demand market, not only in India but also in many other countries and today a nationwide fashion rage. Runa has provided to all the women from a weaker section of society a healthier life and has given access to financial and technical resources for improving their shelter, healthy and large environment to breathe in and to live.

Her, this initiative has not only revived the traditional art of Lucknow’s Chikankari and promoted it to International Level but also has given independence and a new life to the deprived women at a number of more than 10000.



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