‘Hands of a Woman’: About Russian Talents to the Whole World
The largest project on supporting craftswomen from all over Russia
The International Women’s Union is a young organisation. However, a number of serious projects are being implemented under its aegis. Alfiya Amirova, president of this organisation, who dedicated her life to helping women, told more about the main project.
Alfiya Amirova - President of the International Women’s Union regional social organisation, Head of the ‘Hands of a Woman’ international project
The project called ‘Hands of a Woman’ was started in 2014 and was presented at the First Eurasian Women’s Forum. Now it keeps on actively developing. The project unites craftswomen from all regions of Russia. Festivals and forums-exhibitions of international scale regularly take place within its frameworks.
One of the first large-scale events of this king took place in Kazan in 2016. The International Forum-Exhibition brought together representatives from 25 different countries and 33 regions of Russia. After that, the project attracted the attention of the authorities including governors, the State Duma deputies, and the Federation Council senators. The works presented at the exhibition did not leave anyone indifferent.
The ‘Hands of a Woman’ project won the opportunity to participate in the Christmas Fair in Italy.
The Fair presented high-quality handmade goods of Russia’s craftswomen that were extremely interesting to the visitors. Those included national Tatar porcelain dolls, silk, jewelry, and other expensive products.
They managed to destroy the stereotype about Russia dealing only with balalaikas, matryoshka dolls, and ushanka hats.
“It was important for us to understand how European craftspeople work, how they present themselves. It was valuable experience. We understood that Europeans pay much attention to presentable packaging. This helps them increase the demand of their goods. We started teaching our women entrepreneurs to beautifully pack products they made”, said Alfiya Amirova.
In December 2017, the All-Russian Festival of Arts and Crafts ‘Hands of a Woman’ became the winner of the contest of Presidential grants.
On September 20-30, Kazan hosted the final part of the festival using the grant of the President of the Russian Federation on civil development provided by the Presidential Grants Foundation. “The city has never seen such an exhibition before. Craftswomen from 85 regions of Russia presented real pieces of art”, says Alfiya Amirova recalling the comments of the visitors of the exhibition.
“We were to choose 15 best craftswomen to be given the opportunity to present their works to European audience in Strasbourg. It was almost impossible to do that. The jury communicated with them all the day and admired how much talented women Russia has”.
Alfiya Amirova stressed that the jury members never pay attention to the status of participants and their regalia during the selection stage of the ‘Hands of a Woman’ contests and when choosing the winners. The main criterion is talent! As a result, the winners of the contest included craftswomen from villages and remote regions of Russia. They were given the opportunity to present their works at the exhibition. “When we call them and inform about it, they start crying with happiness. And we want to cry with them as well because we are happy that we can give talented women more opportunities and help them”, she continued.
The first annual International Forum-Exhibition ‘Hands of a Woman’ took place in Congress Palace in Strasbourg (France) on November 3-4, 2018. The event comprised three elements: a forum, an exhibition, and a fashion show. Russian craftswomen, designers, businesswomen, and international representatives took part in it.
Today, the project is becoming increasingly popular. Croatia already wants to hold such an event. The organisation received letters of support, gratitude for the opportunities given to the craftswomen, and messages with sincere wishes for success from Russia’s authorities and those of other countries.
Ms. Amirova herself has two higher education diplomas: in the field of law and in pedagogy. Her love towards creative work has no limits. As a child, she loved making something beautiful with her hands. Upon growing up, Alfiya Amirova understood that her vocation was to help people who want to fulfil their potential in creativity and crafts.
Her husband Marat Shakirzyanov helped make her dream come true. He was the one who inspired the idea of the ‘Hands of a Woman’ project and supported his wife when she left her job and devoted herself to social work.
“We had a desire to show Russia’s identity and multinational diversity of creativity in the country. We wanted to make craftswomen feel socially and financially secure”, explained Alfiya Amirova.
The task of the International Women’s Union within the project is to help craftswomen in all directions of their activities. That includes helping with paperwork, official registration of their business, and promotion of their products at regional, national, and even international levels. In addition, one of the most important tasks of the project is to show the whole world how rich Russia is in terms of talents.
Ms. Amirova finds it especially important that the things that many women like to do including handicraft and other creative work develops and reaches professional level. Such an activity allows women to remain feminine.
Anna Repina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov