Empowering the women of Hunza Valley

Empowering the women of Hunza Valley

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Raja Muhammad Sakhi

Men have the freedom to join any kind of profession at any place but women are only allowed to join professions which are more related to their socially defined gender roles. Women are offered low wage jobs, and they had to be dependent on men for even small problems. Women where no were in building and designing of houses. Women social enterprise has now given the opportunity to women to participate directly in building their houses, to design them according to their needs and also make furniture of their own choice without depending on men.

The introduction of new skills for women attracted great resistance from the community, it has challenged the traditional gender roles of women, men felt that women’s participation in development process will endanger their own jobs and position in the society and eventually demolish the patriarchal system. Gradually people have started accepting women’s new roles but it will take some time. Women are now working under an organization, until their separation from that organization they have to make a position in the society, and develop a relation of trust so that they gen get work after their separation from that organization.

Muhammad Sakhi

With the passage of time these non-traditional professions will bring gender equality in the society, when the gender bias end in professions then automatically people will realize that women are capable to do anything, eventually women will enter other fields. Their skills and economic power will improve their position and status in the society. Skills like, carpentry, masonry, plumbing etc help in ending gender division of labour. If people are given awareness about the outcome of these initiatives and appropriate environment, facilities beside security is provided than these skills will be useful in the future.  This will help for future utilization of these skills than women become able to bring change in the society and continue their job but without these their skills will go to waste. People adopted new professions.

 In the past all the tasks were done manually. Women have to carry wood fuel, fruits heavy baskets made from willow branches from the steep mountains to their houses. They have to face harsh conditions of weather also. Women in Hunza have to look after their family’s needs, agricultural fields and the domesticated animals. Now with the help of different skillful trainings learned from different national and international NGO’s women have started different ways of earning income. They work in handicraft making cottage industries, honey bee keeping, and they sell dry fruits of international standard to international market and earn enough income to support their families and to spend on themselves.

Recommendations

i.  Marketable skills

Women should be given trainings of marketable skills, which have demand in the local and international markets.

ii. Trainings of Entrepreneurship

Female workers would be able to market their skills and to earn money of their labour’s worth. Females those who are educated must given managerial skills to establishing small and medium enterprises.

iii.   Proper professional trainings in a specific skill

Complete professional training in a marketable skill is very important for the future of female workers. This will make them able to establish their own businesses in the future and help them to train other females. Computer skills and language courses should also be given to the workers because they have to communicate with the visitors from different countries, who usually ask them about their skills and way of working. Computer skills may help them in getting further knowledge about their skills from all around the world and it will also show them new horizons of using those skills in utilizing them in effective ways. With computer skills these women are also technical training in local products like handicrafts, gems, wooden work, carpets and other fruits processing items.

iv.   Access to market

The female workers should be provided trainings of entrepreneurship to make them able to set up their own businesses in the absence of Women Social Enterprise like opportunity and also local and provincial government should help to access national and international markets. By selling their products in these markets they earn money which is used for the betterment of their living standards.

v.   Job opportunities

New job opportunities should be generated for the female workers so their skills should not go in waste. The new professions will give them the chance to get promotions and taking their skills to a next level. These job opportunities should fill the gap of unemployment in the society

vi.   Day care centers for the married female workers

Many female workers left their jobs after marriage because they face mobility problems, after having children they have to leave them behind with relatives. They face problems of, lack of concentration, unwanted leaves from the working place etc. so a child care center is a solution for those problems.

 vii.   Creating awareness among the masses

Awareness campaigns should be started to make people aware of the non-traditional professions and make them acceptable in the society. Through the local media we create awareness among the local females and also remove the orthodox thinking about the female’s professional and non professional works.

The recommendations have been taken from a to-be-published study conducted by the contributor. He is currently a student of economics at NUML, Islamabad. He can be reached at rms.hunzai91@gmail.com 

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Pamir Times is the pioneering community news and views portal of Gilgit – Baltistan, Kohistan, Chitral and the surrounding mountain areas. It is a voluntary, not-for-profit, non-partisan and independent venture initiated by the youth.