Title and Organization:
Mukti Datta is Managing Director of Panchachuli Women Weavers in Almora, Uttaranchal. Mukti initiated a weaving project for women that started with ten women and two trainers, from the leprosy rehab centre in one village. The project grew organically to over 500 trained women who were then able to make marketable shawls and accessories. The Panchachuli Women Weavers transformed into a private company with women as shareholders and on the board of directors, with upmarket hotels in India buying retail outlets, and a growing market in Australia and Europe. This economically self-sustained industry is the largest in the hills of Uttaranchal and functions with a credit line from a bank. The second institution Mukti launched is the Nanda devi Handloom and Heritage Centre, which is an institution providing forward and backward linkages and skill upgradation to women weavers living in the remote and high altitude valleys of the Himalayas close to the Tibetan border. It also links handlooms with heritage and tourism to provide livelihood to local people. In addition, she also runs an intermediate college for girls, where 126 girls from rural families get the opportunity for vocational training after they graduate (as nurses, accountants, and weavers) as well five primary and two junior high schools. Through social and economic empowerment women from across remote areas of the State of Uttarakhand are finding a voice and a platform to bring about change and to show the way towards inclusive and environmentally sound development in the mountains with women as the leaders. She is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.