Indian handloom sector is ancient and has served the economy well in terms of employment.
The sector is very important from the point of view of its size and employment potential.
The relevance of the handloom sector in the agrarian economy is massive because of its linkages with crucial and sensitive sectors like agriculture.
It uses agricultural products as raw materials and, therefore, provides an ever-ready market for agricultural produce.
Therefore, in an economy where a majority of people still rely on the agrarian sector for their livelihood, the significance of handloom is well understood.
It is a sector that directly addresses women’s empowerment. As per the 2019-20 census, the sector engages over 23 lakhs female weavers and allied workers.
The handloom sector is largely household-based, carried out with labour contributed by the entire family.
Therefore, the engagement of a large number of women (over 70% of all weavers and allied workers are female) in any capacity in this sector has ensured direct remunerations for them, thus, empowering them through financial independence and improved self-worth both within and outside of their homes.
According to the Fourth All India Handloom Census, the total number of households in India engaged in handloom activities (weaving and allied activities) is 31.45 lakhs. This is an increase over the Third census where the count was 27.83 lakhs. A higher number of females are involved in allied activities related to the handlooms.
Female workforce participation rate in allied activities in this sector is twice as much higher than their male counterpart. This trend is true for both urban and rural areas.
About 27.1% of the women engaged as allied workers in this sector have either not received any formal education or have not completed primary level; for male workers, this number is slightly lower, at 20.5%.