Women Wednesday #61
Posted on 28 February 2018
Every morning, 96 year old Qaapik Attagutsiak wakes up in her 10-by-16 foot hut, heated by a seal oil lamp. She perches herself up on her table-top mattress, surrounded by trinkets and miscellanea, and begins to sew. Qaapik weaves tough animal skins into intricate, traditional Inuit designs. "The very first time I ever made clothing professionally, I was about nine or 10 years old," said Qaapik, "My mother gave me an old caribou parka. I cut it up, made the pattern and made caribou pants for my younger sister." That was the beginning of her life as a seamstress. Today, she's an advocate for traditional clothing and culture. She now donates her clothing to hunters, and gives them as gifts to her children and grandchildren. She says she sometimes works on requests from around the world for sealskin mitts and boots. And for the past several years, Qaapik has been strutting down the runway, modelling her own creations at her community's annual Christmas fashion show. At her advanced age, Qaapik still has a dream. It has remained the same for a while: to continue teaching youth the value of traditional Inuit clothing and sewing skills. "What is important for me is to keep our traditional way of making clothing alive," said Qaapik. "We should never forget [this]. We should never forget the ancestors that made us survive to today and the skills they have."
Pili Hussein, 60, is Tanzania’s first woman miner, who disguised herself as a man to access the Tanzanite mines after being told that women were not allowed to enter the mines. During the week, she worked alongside men in the mines and on weekends, as a farm hand. “I drank Konyagi (local gin) and joked with the men about which village women I liked. The miners treated me as an equal and even sought my counsel. I was able to convince them to stop harassing the village women.” After almost a year she found two clusters of tanzanite stones which changed her life. She purchased more tools, employed her own miners and could buy a farm with her savings. In the early 90’s she had enough money to apply for her own mining licence and to her surprise, the law didn’t prohibit women mining, it had just been good old fashioned misogynism. Today, Pili has 70 employees working for me, 150 acres of land, 100 cows and a tractor. She has sent 32 children from her family to school. “I want to work with younger women to teach them how to do business in the mining sector,” She says, “ I never had anyone to guide me and had to live with a false identity as a man, just to access the mines. It doesn’t have to be this way for the next generation.”
Have a positive week,
Love Neon Moon x
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