Tashkent, Uzbekistan, December 20, 2023 – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is officially launching the ‘Women Artisans of Central Asia: A Lookbook Journey’ digital and print publication. This compilation features stunning items produced by 50 Central Asian women artisans of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, showcasing their remarkable craftsmanship to the world, and opening new commercial opportunities for their businesses.
Since the Lookbook is digitally accessible worldwide, it will enable the featured craftspeople to grow their respective businesses on a global scale – increasing awareness and appreciation of their craft both locally and internationally.
For generations, national crafts have been a source of beauty, historical record, pride, and identity, shaping a rich heritage and community traditions. In rural regions, women and their families not only contribute to household incomes, but also stand as guardians of local, national, and regional history and cultural legacy. They are custodians of age-old traditions, including the intricate arts of carpet and textile weaving, embroidery, silk production, wood carving, metalworking, ceramics, and jewelry making, among other handicrafts.
The ‘Women Artisans of Central Asia: A Lookbook Journey’ publication fosters economic independence, cultural preservation, and gender equality, marking a significant stride towards establishing a more inclusive and prosperous Central Asia. With effective business management and exposure to broader markets, these crafts have the power to substantially increase incomes, enhance education, and significantly improve lives of rural families, especially benefiting women and girls.
The Lookbook is a collaboration between USAID’s Trade Central Asia activity, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program, implemented in partnership with the Union of Artisans in Kazakhstan.
In addition to creating the Lookbook, the project team also provided virtual and in-person training on handicraft marketing strategies, and the best methods of using the Lookbook to promote craft practices and businesses.
‘Women Artisans of Central Asia: A Lookbook Journey’ is a testament to USAID’s commitment to reducing the gender gap in Central Asia, while fostering economic growth, preserving cultural heritage, and empowering women and girls.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results.
The Smithsonian Artisan Initiative is dedicated to building the sustainability of craft practices. The program brings together community-driven research and documentation, product design and development, enterprise training, and a suite of tools artisans can use to unlock access to markets. Visit the website www.folklife.si.edu.
Established in 1992, the Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce that helps achieve U.S. foreign policy goals in developing and post-conflict countries through commercial legal reforms. CLDP’s unique, government-to-government technical assistance draws upon experienced regulators, judges, policymakers, business leaders, and attorneys from both the public and private sectors to deliver results that make meaningful and lasting changes to the legal and business environments of host countries. Visit the website https://cldp.doc.gov/.