How To Strengthen Pakistan’s Economy? Empower Women!
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Ashoka Fellow Shaista Bukhari is currently helping women and girls launch successful companies through her organization, Women’s Rights Association (WRA). In the otherwise male-dominated southern Punjab region of Pakistan, she is working to overcome cultural challenges and empower them through business skills and networking opportunities into becoming confident entrepreneurs, financially independent of their families. Her work serves as a blueprint for the kinds of solutions that are needed around the globe, if women are to become active citizens of the global economy.
Q. Did you face resistance as a woman when you launched the Women’s Rights Association 13 years ago?
A. No one in our group had experienced the process of starting an organization, but all were well aware of political and social issues. We got the help of volunteers from existing organizations and learned how to work. My mother and siblings also helped me in this work, but all other relatives were against me because no woman in our family had done this type of work before. According to them, it was not suitable.
Q. How did you get started?
A. We talked with the elders of our families and tried to convince them that our volunteer work was for the betterment of poor women and children, and that it was not forbidden in any religion of the world. We told them that it would result in the prosperity of our society, and would be of no harm to us.