Mujtaba Kadri, a well-known businessman and craft revivalist, on Thursday became the first Kashmiri to deliver a speech at the House of Lords in the United Kingdom on Thursday where he pushed for “the slow and sustainable fashion” and urged duty-free import of ‘Kashmir Pashmina’, which engages a significant section of women artisans, and end to negative travel advisories to Kashmir.
Mr. Kadri, who is the founder of the Me&K label luxury brand from Kashmir, was invited by the King’s College, London, to speak during the two-hour roundtable hosted at the House of Lords on the impact of trade facilitation policies on women, challenges in designing trade policies and gender inclusivity.
“In today’s world, there is a growing demand for slow and sustainable fashion. Kashmir’s pashmina and other traditional textiles exemplify sustainability, and have stood the test of time for centuries,” Mr. Kadri told the House of Lords.
Mr. Kadri highlighted the significant role played by women in the Pashmina industry, particularly in the highly skilled work of hand spinning and embroidery. He underlined the potential of the ‘Kashmir Pashmina’ GI tag on each hand-spun pashmina for detailing and authenticating the production process.
“Around 80% of wages paid in the manufacture of hand spun go to female workers in Kashmir. Kashmir Pashmina is a way to empower women and increase their financial independence,” Mr. Kadri, who is into craft revival in Kashmir, said.
He urged the U.K. government to encourage “duty-free import of ‘Kashmir Pashmina’ with a GI mark”. “This would further incentivize entrepreneurs and designers to utilize ‘Kashmir Pashmina’ in their creations. Increased demand resulting from such promotion would in turn uplift women’s wages,” Mr. Kadri said.
Describing the past 33 years as one where Kashmir faced a disadvantage due to negative travel advisories issued by the U.K. government, he said, “Consequently, companies have been hesitant to send personnel to Kashmir for trade purposes, significantly impacting export trade in the region.”.
Meanwhile, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), India, has expressed interest in organising a meeting in Kashmir in the near future.
The roundtable event was organised by the APPG (Trade & Investment) in collaboration with King’s College London. The primary objective of the APPG is to foster trade and investment between India and the U.K., with the aim of benefiting the citizens of both nations and nurturing a strong and inclusive relationship, a APPG spokesman said.