By Aman Mateti

October 11, 2021

Fearless and focused, Warli artist and trainer Razia has been breaking barriers in her community and enabling other women to restart their livelihoods.

When Razia Falluh Khan learned that a group of 30 women in Ulhasnagar, a city over 40km away from her hometown Vajreshwari, Maharashtra, needed training in Warli artisanship, she was hesitant. The journey required her to climb a hill. “But then the TISSER program people told me that the women wanted me to train them.

At that time, I was training another 30-50 women in a village near Ulhasnagar. So I decided to train one set of women in the first village, climb up the hill to Ulhasnagar and train another set of women there,” recounted Razia, who did this for a month.

Hardworking and resilient, 30-year-old Razia is a Warli art trainer and artisan. Razia loves to paint and during her time as an artisan, she used to make cards, frames, books, bags, tea trays, teapots, etc. “I started working so that I could stand on my own feet. With whatever I make, I see how I can contribute towards my family expenditure,” said Razia, who is a breadwinner in an 8-member household. 

Razia has been a Warli artisan working under the TISSER program since 2017. Before the pandemic, Razia traveled to Mumbai to learn how to market her products better. But when the pandemic hit, the frequency of orders for her products reduced. To make up for the lost income, Razia switched over to training other women in the craft. She earns ₹275 per day as a trainer. 

A part of the REVIVE Alliance, the skilling program has not only given Razia a platform to earn and grow but also helps her enable other women to do the same. Before the pandemic, women would congregate in one place to learn Warli art. Now, due to COVID-19 restrictions, trainers like Razia need to travel to villages around the region. 

“Most women don’t travel, and those who do only go to closeby places. I’m the only one who accepts going to faraway areas like Vitthalwadi, Bewundi, and Ulhasnagar. The traveling can get very difficult…for example, I had to change 6 vehicles to reach Badlapur one way — train, rickshaw, bus,” said Razia. 

Her mother is often very worried when she returns home late, but this doesn’t bother Razia. She stays focused on her goals: she just wants to earn her livelihood and grow. “I want to be recognized for the effort I put in and get compensated/promoted accordingly. I want a regular income. Women need to be supported; men can get a job anywhere. Only if we support women can they be empowered,” said Razia.

This story was editorialized by Raveena Joseph