With the 40th International Women’s Day coming up on Sunday, the Centre of Excellence for Women Studies at the University of Karachi (KU) invited home-based female workers on Friday to demonstrate their work before a larger audience.
The marquee was stretched in front of the women studies department with promising home-based entrepreneurs setting up around two dozen stalls, displaying hand-woven rugs and stencilling on textile fabrics, embroidery and jewellery.
“Low incomes and absence of marketing opportunities are the fate of these home-based women workers,” said women studies department director Prof Dr Nasreen Aslam Shah, who is also the chairperson of the social work department. “In order to commemorate this occasion, we thought about doing something practical for them by introducing their work before hundreds of students, distinguished guests, philanthropists and investors.”
She added that the varsity’s Centre of Excellence for Women Studies, in collaboration with Anjuman-e-Taraqqi-e-Niswan, had been morally and financially supporting over 1,800 home-based women workers across the city.
A class-nine student, Rimsha Muhammad Iqbal, who along with her sister took on the art of stencilling on textile fabrics around three years ago, was happy to have this opportunity.
“Until now, we only made orders for individual clients who learnt about our work through relatives and word-of-mouth publicity,” said the girl, who studies at the Government Girls’ Secondary School in Baldia Town. “We make around Rs500 to Rs600 a week, but now we hope to get more clients as a number of students have exchanged their contacts with us.”
For Rimsha, her home-based work is a means of providing sustenance to the family as well as continuing her education. “At present, and considering my age, our ailing father does not allow us to go outside and pursue a career.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2015.
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