Founder & Executive Director: LOCAL WOMEN'S HANDICRAFTS/ L.O.C.W.O.M
International public speaker • Anti-sweatshop advocate • Millennial commentator on power, Fair trade, Gender justice & Environmental protection
A fiery 20-something year old with vaulting determination, Nasreen Sheikh does not know her birth-date or her exact age. In her native southern Nepal border village, girls' births are not recorded in any official record. They are the unacknowledged. From the moment of her birth, society tells the rural girl child that her existence is unremarkable. If one's own birth does not matter, then the conditions in which she lives, works, strives, suffers and dies also do not matter. Growing up, Nasreen witnessed many atrocities against women. By age 9 or 10 , Nasreen's life seemed destined for the same oppressive path. She was working 15 hours per day in a Nepali sweatshop as a child laborer. She received less than $2 per grueling shift, only if she completed the hundreds of garments demanded of her. Nasreen ate, slept and toiled in her prison-cell sized sweatshop workstation. She recalls often picking sewing threads out of her food and being too afraid to look out of the window. By about age 21 Nasreen's family had arranged her into a forced marriage, Nasreen recalls: "As girls, we are simply a commodity that is bought and traded as such. We are not human beings. With the help of a kind stranger who taught her to read and seize her destiny, Nasreen escaped the sweatshop and forced marriage.
Determined to empower disadvantaged women, Nasreen founded "Local Women's Handicrafts," a fair trade sewing collective based in Kathmandu, Nepal. LWH is a social enterprise that empowers and educates disadvantaged women by providing a paid training program in design, sewing, weaving, embroidery, knitting, jewelry making and pattern work. To date, LWH has training hundreds of Nepali women - many of whom escaped forced and abusive marriages and all of whom are determined to escape poverty. Nasreen's seamstresses and artisans sew beautiful handicrafts each day and, in the process, they sew the pieces of themselves back together too.
Nasreen has launched a powerful public health & education initiative. She and the LW women have made and given away hundreds of biodegradable antibacterial sanitary pads to rural women & girls who cannot afford basic hygienic supplies. She's led body image and women's health workshops in cramped rural schools and villages for those who often suffer in silence and stigma. Nasreen Sheikh shatters everything anyone believes about the limitations of women, child laborers, fair trade, or even your environmentally irresponsible plastic water bottle. Nasreen has spoken at conferences and colleges in Ireland, America and the UK, Spain, Brussels etc.Find out more about Nasreen Sheikh (www.nasreensheikh.com)