Janakpur Women’s Development Center

Mithila Art of Nepal – Empowerment Through Tradition

The JWDC was established in 1992 as a NGO (non-government organization) with the hope of encouraging women to keep their artistic skills alive. Because the arts of Maithili are the women¹s own, the JWDC believes that women should have jurisdiction over the marketing of their art and that profits should be cooperatively managed by the producers. In order to empower women, they are given training in literacy, record-keeping, costing and quality control, marketing, management, leadership, team building, gender awareness, planning and evaluation. It is hoped that JWDC provides a model women¹s empowerment program, wishing to harness tradition to achieve social change.

Transition to Economic Empowerment


Since the establishment of the Janakpur Women¹s Development Center, the Maithili art of Nepal has taken a direction of its own, to be distinguished around the world. Figures are shown without perspective, often in profile and with large eyes. Natural images such as leaves, lotus flowers, parrots and fish, fill empty space in all types of scenes. Careful attention is paid to color and pattern. Designs border the page. These spontaneous paintings are shown on rough handmade Nepali paper called ‘Lokta’ paper. This paper is made from harvesting just the bark of ‘Lokta’ trees.