Farhat Sajjad

Pakistan has significant challenges in closing the gender gap on economic participation. The Global Gender Gap Report, puts Pakistan at 143, among the worst performing countries in terms of economic participation and opportunities for women.  Lack of income earning opportunities, make women further vulnerable, and less able to mitigate the impacts of conflict.

Farhat  Sajjad   grew  up  in  a small village in southern Pakistan, the daughter of a labourer, she is first woman in her family to graduate from college. She voluntarily moved to work in the remote northern region of Pakistan, that has experienced decades of political instability which has significantly impacted the lives of people especially women who have borne the brunt especially because of the restrictions that has been imposed on them.

Along  with  a  small  group  of  friends  and  colleagues  in  the  area, Sajjad, co-founded the Shining Light Community Development Organization (SLCDO), a social welfare  organization  that  equips  communities  in  remote,  northern  Pakistan  through  innovative education, training and development programs.  In a region known for violent conflict among religious and ethnic groups,  Sajjad and  her  team  felt  it  was  important  to  bring  together  women  from  diverse backgrounds  to  begin  to  learn  and  work  together.    In  2007,  under  Sajjad’s  leadership,  the Women’s  Empowerment  Program  began  with  10  women  learning  to  sew,  knit  and  make handicrafts  at  Sajjad’s  home.    Today,  over  560  women  from  diverse  backgrounds  have  graduated  from  the  program.    Many have  gone  on  to  develop  small businesses  or  to  become  vocational  trainers  themselves.  The program is now being replicated in other communities within  the region.  Where segregation and separation between groups used to drive fear and fuel conflict in the community, by working and learning together through the Women’s Empowerment Program, women who wouldn’t ever have connected  have  built  friendships  and  networks  of  support  and  understanding.

Country: Pakistan
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