Vikas is a staff writer for the Sustainable Development news and editorial section on Justmeans. He is an MBA with 20 years of managerial and entrepreneurial experience and global travel. He is the author of "The Power of Money" (Scholars, 2003), a book that presents a revolutionary monetary economic theory on poverty alleviation in the developing world. Vikas is also the official writer...
Women Empowerment through Social Entrepreneurship in Pakistan
Two young Pakistani women from two very diverse regions of the country are showing the way how social enterprises can make a direct impact on the lives of underprivileged women in Pakistan. Khalida Brohi, 23, who hails from a tribal area of Balochistan, and Saba Gul, 28, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a part of Lahore's upper economic class, are leading from the front in their efforts at social entrepreneurship.
Both women recently participated in San Francisco's SOCAP 2011 social entrepreneur conference, and discussed the impact their social enterprises are making on the lives of needy women in Pakistan. Both women have graduated from the Unreasonable Institute, which is a six-week social entrepreneurship incubation program held in Boulder, CO every year. The training and connections that they received during this program has helped them to run their social enterprises more effectively.
With less than 40 percent of women in Pakistan classified as "barely literate," the country is ripe for social entrepreneurs who can work to uplift the socio-economic status of women in the country. Khalida Brohi's social enterprise "Sughar" is a training initiative that aims to provide the basic tools to socially disadvantaged women to earn their livelihood.
The enterprise has already spread out to 10 centers, and each center offers a two-month program designed to train women in embroidery skills. The trainees are guided to establish their own "Primary Production Units" and sell their products to the urban markets in Pakistan. Brohi says, "A woman's value rises in our society when she brings in money."
Saba Gul has established "Bags for Bliss" program that aspires to improve the lives of women of the Afghani Turkmen refugee community. Girls and women in this community have been exploited with low-wage menial jobs for a long time. Saba's organization "BLISS" (Business and Life Skills School) aims to empower these women by helping them learn new vocational skills that can let them earn a decent livelihood.
Such social innovation programs for the underprivileged women in Pakistan can help to restore their dignity, self-esteem and self-confidence. The opportunity to earn a fair income and become economically self-reliant can work wonders to improve the social conditions of women and girls in the backward regions of Pakistan.
Photo Credit: ljleavell