By Hena Gul, HR Manager, SAWERA. September 2014.
Cultural Traditions in Pakistan's Tribal Regions
Women of tribal regions are more vulnerable as compared with the other parts of Pakistan; they are to strictly follow pardah as religious practice – family and customs essentially force them to live in submission and overall fear.
Women are killed in the name of honour due to society’s view that a woman’s every action reflects upon a family’s honor, especially a man’s honor. Therefore, if family members, especially a male family member, views that a woman’s action is “dishonourable,” he feels that in order to restore that honor to him or his family he must kill her.
The decision to kill a female family member is often a family or traditional decision.
Education is Key
"The promotion of women’s rights means the promotion of... freedom, justice and the peaceful resolution of disputes, of social progress & better standards of living; of equality, tolerance, and dignity." Joint Statement by UN Experts. International Women's Day, 2005.
Education, one of the basic facilities of human life should readily be available in the nearest approach but unfortunately, there are limited schools / colleges for females.
Students have to travel a long distance for access to their schools. In these conditions, parents think about the distance and they even hesitate to send their male children to schools, while one has to think a 100 times more to send a girl – and this is also a factor of non-educated and non-professional communities.
Skills Training by SAWERA
SAWERA is working for women’s empowerment in District Swat through the vocational centres and has a project providing vocational skills trainings to 1,800 women to polish their existing skills and to gain new skills.
The aim of the vocational trainings is:
- Socio-economic empowerment of women to combat violence against them.
- Enhancement of the quality of women’s lives.
- Gender-based community development.
- To promote skill-based income resources by training women and thereby empower them with the knowledge of themselves and to strengthen their position to make them one of the earning members of their households and communities.
- Overcome the mental pressure on women’s minds of male dominancy.
- Highlight the importance of women education and their participation in economic development.
- Change the general perception that honor of a person lies in seclusion of the women.
- Persuade general public to recognize right of votes of women and encourage their participation in political processes.
The majority of internal and external domestic tasks are being performed by women. Along with guidance and assistance from SAWERA, they bring vegetables from the market, gather wood for fuel (where Sui gas is not available), and perform many other activities.
Women of the targeted area are hard-working and can make great contributions towards their quality of life. But the problem persists because they are not the earning party at home, so they are always neglected for their rights and never given the place they deserve.
Women's Empowerment - Economically and Emotionally
More efforts are needed to raise awareness regarding poor conditions of women particularly in rural areas of Swat District. SAWERA's project will act as a feeler for greater participation of women and youth in social, educational and economic fields. The aims of the project is to sensitize the general public and all stakeholders to realize rights of women.
SAWERA's project will not only provide the technical skills assistance but will allow several opportunities to eradicate women's psycho-social depression and encourage social gatherings in the community to discuss their issues which will help them to look for the solutions to their problems.
Also, our project is very essential for the development of women who are facing violations so that they may be able to fight for their rights before law. This would further help towards the education of women through reducing violations in the targeted areas of Swat District, as this is a very good initiative for donors to help eliminate violence against women.
At this stage, SAWERA needs full support from national, international donors, human rights defender networks, and individuals.
Support & Empower Your Sisters in Pakistan
Spread the word! Your little support can bring a very positive change towards women empowerment globally, particularly your sisters in Pakistan as they all are waiting for you to support with this hope; you will never be disappointed at any stage.
Women's empowerment is a complex, multi-dimensional, fluid and emerging concept within feminism and development literature. It has economic, political, social, cultural, religious, personal, psychological, and emotional elements. Empowerment appears to be context-specific and has multiple determinants. Women are capable of empowering themselves while external actors and agencies can create supportive environments.
Women's empowerment is defined in a wide variety of ways some of which include access to material resources such as land, money, credit and income, availability of decent employment opportunities that involve good working conditions, access to power through representation in political and decision-making bodies, the freedom to make choices in life, enjoyment of basic rights granted in the constitution and international agreements, equal access to quality education and health facilities, mobility to be able to access various facilities, and control over one's body, sexuality and reproductive choices.
Empowerment is believed to be the road to women's own equality, rights and fulfillment, while the instrumental view regards women's empowerment as the means to a better family, economy, society, and nation.
Empowerment is not unidirectional and can also be diminished with a change in contextual variables. It has to be continually reiterated and established to prevent reversal.
Empowerment is not easily amenable to measurement and existing measures are inadequate. A multi-variate analysis is required that encompasses a multiplicity of variables and measures empowerment in ways unique to the situation...
A large number of women are home-based workers who have no access to the market and depend upon the middleman to market their products. They have no knowledge of the market and end up selling their work cheaply.
Women normally work very long hours in conditions that lead to health issues. Such workers are often invisible and their work is not recognized in official statistics. Since many of them work from home, it is difficult to organize into collectives or unions to demand their rights....
A number of initiatives have been taken by the government in Pakistan, donors and non-governmental organizations to increase women's empowerment and ensure their legal, economic and political equality.