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Breaking Barriers - A Karvaan Foundation Success Story - Ibra Aamir

Updated: Oct 1

Pakistan’s textile industry is famous for its elaborately-crafted products all over the world. Pakistan is especially known for its hand crafts that have great demand in the international market. Most of these goods are delivered by women from rural areas who work in the comfort of their homes. Likewise, the Kaarvan Crafts Foundation is an all-women organization that has given hundreds of Pakistani women the opportunity to work in the textile sector.


Most of these women are unlettered, but they are equipped with brilliant craft skills. Women are often discouraged from working in the corporate world in Pakistani society. But these women stand up to the backward norms and culture of women only catering to the domestic role. A lot of women working with Kaarvan Foundation have learned these skills from their mothers and grandmothers. Their work has also attracted the attention of renowned clothing brands. These brands give consignments to Kaarvan to obtain intricately-designed products.


A great example of such a woman is Shabana Kanwal. She lives in Multan Cantt, but has roots in Dera Ismail Khan, where she learned the art of hand embroidery from her mother and grandmother. Initially shy, Shabana baji relates how her experience at Kaarvan has steadily built her confidence. She now travels to many cities in Pakistan alone and even organizes her own exhibitions. With the love of three kids and a supportive husband, Shabana baji says she can stand with a smile for hours on end at the exhibitions. The income generated from the exhibitions is stored away for her children’s future.


If the women of Pakistan were to work side by side with the men, economic and social relief that they would induce is far greater than we can imagine. Global research giants such as Mckinsey have shown that women in developing countries, if given the chance to earn, will reinvest 90 percent of their earnings back into their families and home. Men, on the other hand, reinvest only 40 percent. The higher investment rate eseentially means that these women who earn are giving more to their children and families.


Kaarvan Crafts Foundation has initiated Women Economic Empowerment program. The program aims to develop skills of 1320 women through training of skill enhancement and development in the rural areas of Punjab. The project provides market linkeages to these women thus achieving an increase in their earnings, reporting higher control over economic resources and increased savings.


The women working with Kaarvan often visit and display national and international exhibitions which gives them a sense of independence and mobility. Not only this, they build a better lifestyle for themselves and their children. In this age, a woman alone in her house is vulnerable, but a woman with a strong sense of the outside world can rise through the ranks of discrimination and stand with her head high on the heights of success.


The need for women to finally advance in the practical world is now more than ever. It is imperative that the Pakistani female population defies the narrow thinking of restraining themselves to the domestic situation when they can make great use of their technical skills and talent to achieve heights of success.


Being a working woman is not easy especially in a society where women are not regarded with respect. Most women face gender discrimination at work; they are denied higher designations as men cannot bear to work under the orders of a female. Moreover, they have to work twice as hard to earn the respect of their colleagues and make a name for themselves. There is no value and respect given to a housewife no matter how hard she works because it's unpaid labour, while a working woman is constantly criticised. A working woman has to do something big to prove her value in the corporate world.


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