India is the world’s largest and maybe most diverse carpet producing country. Since the organization’s foundation in 1995 Label STEP promotes better working and living conditions in North India’s so called ‘carpet belt’.
The country has a rich weaving history, including since the 16th century and the arrival of the Moguls the finest hand knotted carpets. In more recent years, the country has established itself as a leading provider of hand tufted and hand loomed carpets. These affordable and quick production techniques were welcomed enthusiastically by the international markets.
In its 25 years of activity in India, Label STEP has always been involved in both improving working conditions as well as carrying out social projects for weavers, artisans and their communities. Women empowerment is at the centre of education and health projects, which have benefited hundreds of thousands of people during the years.
As in other countries, Label STEP runs a Weaver Empowerment program. It has been implemented in all major production regions were STEP is active, from the Bhadohi / Mirzapur region to the area around Agra and the weaving communities in Kashmir and Jaipur.
At the beginning, the ‘help for self-help’ projects aimed mainly at improving health and working conditions, now they also include enabling access to governmental social services, which previously were often available to workers in formal industries only. Now some are also open for artisans from the informal sector: a current STEP initiative supports weavers subscription to a Pension Fund Scheme.