Shaheena Akhtar: The 'Kani' queen of Kashmir

Shaheena


By Zubair Qureshi Srinagar, Sep 30 : The women of Jammu and Kashmir are making a name for themselves by showing outstanding performance in various fields. An important name among these women is Shaheena Akhtar, a resident of Srinagar, who is associated with the historic handicraft industry 'Kani Shawl'. Akhtar, in a very short time, has become one of the successful women entrepreneurs of the Kashmir Valley. She is known and recognised not only locally but also nationally in the business. Hailing from the Nowshera area of Srinagar, Shaheena Akhtar is the first person in her family to have completed graduation. In 2004, she learned the art of making a Kani under the guidance of her brother. With self-confidence and courage, Akhtar also played an important role in improving the financial condition of her household. She started participating in handicraft exhibitions on her own to promote the handicraft industry and eliminate the interference of the middlemen. So it proved to be quite beneficial. Akhtar worked as a woman artisan in Kani Shawl Looms, though she had to listen to people's taunts at first, but with courage and determination, she made her dream come true. Today, many Kani Shawl looms are running in the villages, including the city of Srinagar, in which hundreds of men and women artisans are earning their jobs. She has so far participated in various handicraft exhibitions at the national and international level where her work has not only been appreciated but her shawls have also been well received. She says, "At one time, we used to make only two lakh rupees in profit for the whole year, but when I participated in the exhibition for the first time, we made a much bigger profit and it was the first step to success after which there was no looking back." Pashmina wool obtained from rare Ladakh sheep is used to make Kani shawls. First, this wool is finely spun on a spinning wheel to turn it into fine yarn, and then a Kani shawl is made from pashmina threads of different colours. Akhtar does not compromise on the quality, as a result of which she receives orders from all over the country and abroad. This woman entrepreneur has been awarded with several honours so far. While many women have been inspired by Shaheena Akhtra's self-confidence. Success in any work can be achieved with courage, dedication and determination. In such a situation, she has not only become a successful women entrepreneur but also a beacon for other Kashmiri women. /IANS




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