Artisan Organization: Toockies Project

Country: India

In the shanty town of Nababpur, men make less than $3 a day, and often squander their earnings. Their wives, expected to stay at home, have few opportunities to take control over their family’s well-being.

Meanwhile, in the States, Anna Marie Strauss is inspired by two things: empowering women culturally bound to the home—and her in-law’s handmade “toockie” dish cloths, which outperform their disposable counterparts in scrubbing prowess, longevity (wash and re-use!), eco-friendliness, and hygiene.

Ever since Strauss partnered up with local leader Jaya Basu to create a Toockie knitting co-op, these dish cloths have also been granting women like Ayesa the gift of autonomy. Considered “undesirable” after her divorce, working with Toockies has enabled Ayesa to take advantage of her independence and emerge as a leader in the community.