In episode 133, Kestrel welcomes Nasreen Sheikh, the founder of both Local Women’s Handicrafts and nonprofit LOCWOM, to the show. An international public speaker and anti-sweatshop advocate, Nasreen has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan and more.

"I was working in this small room, thousands of t-shirts would be all around the room, the window would be so small so there would be not enough air, and really when you have a new t-shirt that just came from the other factory and it’s literally filled with so much chemicals - and one of the hardest things for me was not being able to breathe sometimes."
- Nasreen Sheikh, Founder of Local Women’s Handicrafts


In this episode, Nasreen shares stories of growing up in rural Nepal, and the fear that was connected to growing up as a woman. She tells a story about a woman being murdered in her village for being too outspoken, the numerous forced marriages that happened around her, and the challenges she faced paving herself a different route.

Nasreen also shares intimate details about the realities she endured for two years, working in a sweatshop with her cousin, starting when she was 9 or 10 years old.

Also, Nasreen shares more on the issues surrounding documentation with relation to the garment industry. As she explains, many people that work in the garment industry are not documented, which means that their rights are diminished - if they get hurt, they cannot place claims about workplace injuries, and if they die, a police report will generally not be filed.

The below thoughts, ideas + organizations were brought up in this chat:

  • Local Women’s Handicrafts, a fair trade textile and handicraft collective in Kathmandu, focused on empowering and educating disadvantaged women using sustainable methods

  • 1.6 million children in Nepal are forced to work, or 21% of all children in the country, according to the ILO’s 2008 report

  • “85% of sweatshop workers are young women between the ages of 15-25”, via Feminist.org

  • LOCWOM, the nonprofit that Nasreen founded, has trained over 100 women to work with them in Nepal

  • According to Nasreen, when women in Nepal are menstruating, they are considered impure and often have to go stay in a hut for 5 days. She and her nonprofit LOCWOM are trying to shift the stigma associated with menstruation, and instead want to help emphasize that it is natural and beautiful. They have also helped distribute hundreds of biodegradable antibacterial sanitary pads to rural women and girls who cannot afford basic hygiene supplies.

  • Nasreen’s TEDTalk, “How To Record Silence”


The Sustainable Fashion Forum is a one-day conference focused around sustainable fashion, textile processes and practices, and offering tangible ways fashion businesses can lead in sustainability, ethical responsibility, and climate change.

Speakers include Patagonia, Reformation, Levis, Fabscrap and more. Kestrel will be speaking at 4:20pm about Sustainability + Storytelling.


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