The future of women is the future of humanity, said European Union (EU) ambassador to Pakistan Jean Francois Cautain, while addressing women from Shikarpur, Kashmore-Kandhkot and Jacobabad at the Sindh Rural Support Programmme complex in Sukkur on Saturday.
“The EU is providing assistance to the Sindh government to launch women empowerment programmes in the rural areas of the province. I am happy to see that the women, who used to live in extreme poverty, are today not only supporting their own families but also other women in their community,” said Cautain.
“Seeing the success of the programme in these districts, we have also started it in other districts such as Larkana, Qamber-Shahdadkot, Matiari, Tando Allah Yar, Tando Mohammad Khan and Dadu,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, his wife, Sonia Cautain, said she was speechless after the women shared their success stories. “Believe me, I don’t have words to appreciate your achievements,” she told the women. Talking about the union council-based poverty reduction programme, she said, “We don’t have such programmes in Europe”.
“You women are amazing and I idealise Benazir Bhutto like you do,” she remarked. “It would be wrong if I didn’t thank those men who trusted their women and supported them in doing their jobs,” lauded Sonia.
Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO) chief executive officer Dittal Kalhoro welcomed the women and said, “Today is your day, because you have proved your mettle”. According to him, the poverty reduction programme was started in 2009 in three districts – Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Kashmore-Kandhkot – and was a big challenge because most men did not allow their wives or daughters to participate.
“The programme is aimed at empowering rural women so they can earn respectable livelihoods on their own. After getting trained in community organisation, these women then bring the entire union council in the loop,” he explained.
“Community development is a distant dream without active participation and empowerment of women and, therefore, our programme is focused on rural women who can perform miracles,” he added. After getting interest-free micro loans from the SRSO, the women have utilised the money wisely, due to which today they are able to help others by advancing interest-free loans, said Kalhoro.
Razia, from Karampur, district Kashmore-Kandhkot, said that in her area girls are not allowed to seek anything beyond primary-level education. “When I completed my primary education, my father asked me to sit at home but my mother, who was a member of SRSO’s Village Organisation, stood up to my father and today I am studying in Intermediate,” she related. Various programmes of women empowerment under SRSO have helped many families rise above the poverty line, she said.
“After receiving a micro loan of Rs10,000 from SRSO, I purchased some clothes and started preparing patchwork quilts,” said Arbeli from Mirpur Buriro in district Jacobabad. “I used to sell these quilts in my village and other surrounding areas,” said Arbeli. “After repaying the loan, I once again took a loan of Rs10,000 and expanded my business. Now my children are going to school and, apart from supporting my family, I have provided jobs to poor girls,” she said.
Source: The Express Tribune
December 11, 2016