While educational opportunities have been few and far between for gender minorities in Pakistan, a local NGO has stepped in to create an international platform for the development of the country’s transgender persons. The Gender Guardian (TGG), a non-governmental organisation working to train and educate transgender persons in Pakistan, has partnered with various foreign NGOs to allow transgender citizens the opportunity to participate in a month-long training program in four different countries.
Transwoman Sania Abbasi, who is a makeup artist and has been associated with TGG as a teacher for the past several months, is among the many aspirants of the training scholarship. If selected for the coveted programme, Ms Abbasi says it will bring her immense pride to be one of Pakistan’s first transgender persons sent abroad for training in social work and welfare. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to represent our country on an international platform and I have been working tirelessly towards achieving my goals. I can’t wait to work alongside international NGOs. I want to learn from them and also share my personal experiences with the world.”
According to The Gender Guardian (TGG) Head Asif Shehzad, his organisation is committed to providing equal opportunities to transgender people through the provision of free vocational training and formal education. “We have taught and trained dozens of transgender people in various skills such as driving, cooking, makeup, sewing and etc over the last couple of years. However, through this scholarship the selected participants will be able to use share their skills and talent with the world and for the first time, have access to international cultural exchange and training,” said Shehzad. Speaking further about the scholarship programme, Shehzad also informed that The Gender Guardian has been working towards compiling a digital database of transgender persons registered with TGG as well as other people who donate to the organisation. “So far, we have partnered with NGOs working in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Using our database, we will select candidates every six months to be sent to these four countries for a month-long training, while people from the same four countries will also have the option to come and train in Pakistan. Our selected candidates will be working alongside their host country’s NGOs and represent Pakistan on an international level,” he explained.
Sania Abbasi, believes this scholarship will allow the people of the world to see the skills and talent of Pakistan’s transgender person, who often tend to be stereotyped as people limited to sex work. “As a gender minority, we have little no resources for pursuing higher education or going abroad, because of which we have very limited opportunities for work. However, this scholarship opportunity for transgender people to showcase their abilities and break the stereotypes associated with them,” she asserted.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2020.
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