ISLAMABAD: The Aurat Foundation organised the passing-out ceremony of its ‘Women Car-Van Leaders Project’, here on Tuesday. Under the initiative of women’s economic empowerment, 10 household workingwomen were given one-year training of professional driving, basic education and mixed martial arts.
The project aimed at training domestic workers as professional drivers to make them self-sufficient to earn a living. The Aurat Foundation has planned to link these professional women drivers to the formal market of skilled workers.
The Car-Van Women group included Perveen Akhtar, Aliya Bibi, Tasneem Bibi, Eidun Nisa, Fareeda Bibi, Ibrat Shaheem, Khalida Bibi, Musarat Batool, Nuzhat Sultana, and Zahida Perveen.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Nuzhat Sadiq and PML-N MPA Tehseen Fawad attended the event as chief guests.
Aurat Foundation Chief Operating Officer Naeem Mirza shared the project objectives.. He said the project succeeded in breaking the ‘slave-like’ status of these women and made them productive members of the society. He said the Aurat Foundation believed that no nation could progress unless women became economically empowered.
Aurat Foundation Peshawar Resident Director Shabina Ayaaz delivered the welcome address. A documentary showed the previous profession of the 10 women as household workers and their basic education, driving and mixed martial art classes under the project.
The chief guests distributed certificates among the women. Nuzhat Sadiq appreciated the women and said she would share their success stories with the parliamentarians.
The project was aimed at highlighting women’s strength, with a vision to break stereotypes in the conventional labour markets and to bring women in the mainstream markets as professional drivers. The project was initiated by the Aurat Foundation’s Peshawar office and implemented by the Islamabad office. The programme selected 10 domestic workers from remote villages after surveys of around 200 or more domestic servants.
These women were enrolled in three training programmes: Functional Literacy – where they got basic education, Self-Defence – basic training of mixed martial arts to protect themselves from difficult situations and Driving Course – a three-month driving training.
The Car-Van leaders were invited to express their success stories. “I was 12-year-old when I started working. I was always degraded by my gender, went through extreme hard work and became shallow on the inside, thinking this was the end to it, until I joined this project. I am now supporting my family with a good career. I am lucky to get an option like this, where driving seemed impossible for women but not anymore,” said Musarat Batool.
Another participant, Ibrat Shaheen, fought against a long-established tradition, where she was forced to marry an elderly man, who had seizures of epilepsy. Along with her five kids, Ibrat started working domestically in Amerpoora, Rawalpindi. She would earn and work for hours by washing dishes, cleaning houses. “My luck shined when I visited the community centre where I got the opportunity of being part of the Women Car-Van Leaders Project, I had lost hope for living a respectable life until this project,” she said.