Woodinville, Washington — In Pakistan, poverty-stricken women and girls have always lacked their rights. The United Nations ranks gender equality in the country as one of the lowest in the world. Today, sexual harassment remains constant throughout Pakistan. Nearly ten cases of domestic child abuse get reported every day. Honor killings of women are most abundant in Pakistan at 1,000 per year. Child marriage remains an issue as 21% of girls in Pakistan marry before the age of 18. Due to this and other factors, 5 million young girls cannot receive an education in Pakistan. Without proper classes and teachers, these girls cannot develop the skills necessary to make a sustainable income and become self-sufficient. Despite such staggering numbers, women’s rights have not been a focus of the Pakistani government for years. However, change is close as organizations like Hunar Ghar helps women in Pakistan.
Change in Pakistan
Recently, the national government made small steps in upholding the rights of Pakistani women and girls. By denying mercy petitions in the case of acid attacks, courts are defending women to prevent attackers from being pardoned. Additionally, the Sindh province protects women farmers by guaranteeing written contracts, fair minimum wage, health benefits and more. These steps are the first attempt made by Pakistan to reduce the large gap between male and female workers in the agriculture industry. The law is a significant turn in the right direction because agriculture is one of Pakistan’s largest labor sectors.
Contributing to Change: The Hunar Ghar Welfare Organization
Although these policy changes are essential steps towards maintaining the rights of women and girls in Pakistan, improvement happens through the work of Pakistani women and women-led organizations. Pakistan has seen Aurat (Women) marches occur in Islamabad and Lahore. Despite threats and backlash from groups like the Taliban, many women continue to fight for their rights. The protestors know that Pakistan, like any country, only moves forward with empowered women. Fueled by similar sentiments, the Hunar Ghar Welfare Organization is a Karachi-based organization founded to help women become self-sufficient. As a nonprofit organization with female leads, Hunar Ghar continues to benefit women living in poverty by helping them develop vocational skills and establish their careers.
How the Organization Works:
Hunar Ghar helps women in Pakistan find confidence in themselves. Professional instructors teach skills such as embroidery, sewing, hairdressing, block printing and bag-making. Women enrolled in Hunar Ghar’s courses receive high-quality training allowing them to master their chosen skills. Learning improves by providing materials such as sewing machines, needles and cloth. All are entirely free for students. After completing their course, the women get an official certification to honor their hard work and achievements. Armed with the certificate, students can feel more confident in themselves and their abilities.
Hunar Ghar guides Pakistani women through the path of starting a business. After students complete their course, Hunar Ghar offers them the chance to sell their handmade products at the organization’s fundraisers and other events. Enrolled women get the opportunity to show their intricate kurtas, block print bags, hand-painted kitchenware and more to a large audience. As a result of more Pakistani consumers viewing their work, the women may begin to make a profit for themselves. Every year, nearly 250 Hunar Ghar course graduates can become entrepreneurs and establish their businesses.
Gender Wage Gap in Pakistan
Hunar Ghar is allowing Pakistani women to become more independent. However, the gender wage gap in Pakistan is one of the largest in the world. Many women in Pakistan cannot make a living for themselves because of a lack of education, dangerous workplaces and sexism. Hunar Ghar has helped change this problematic situation by providing vocational training and allowing women to hone their skills. Pakistani women can then define their professions and make a profit from the businesses they create. Hunar Ghar helps women in Pakistan become dependent on themselves and no one else.
The gender gap in Pakistan is negatively affecting women in poverty as women and girls cannot receive an education and create a successful future for themselves. However, organizations such as the Hunar Ghar Welfare Organization are helping women discover their talents and start businesses. Hunar Ghar is assisting Pakistani women to become self-sufficient. Through their work and the steady commitment of the government, Pakistan is heading towards a brighter future.
– Mariam Kazmi