Salma Rahim, a master-embellisher from the Dera Jatta village in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, has always wished to escape poverty and inspire women to achieve more in their lives, by helping them develop their skills.
After obtaining a vocational training diploma from the International Labor Organization (ILO), she went door-to-door in her women to recruit women, in order to create a small team of embellishers, whom she trained at her house.
Salma believes that “training is essential to polish any skill, and in this business only practice improves how detail-oriented and creative you are.”
Apart from providing the women training, she herself followed the advice of a fashion designer from Karachi, who helped her develop her skills further and taught her how to enter urban markets. In 2011, Salma decided to launch Zardozi Bridal Wear company, based in her village. After only eight months, already employed over 80 women from the villages surrounding her own and intends to continue expanding its number of employees over the coming years.
The young woman’s company provides its employees transportation services to and from the training facility, situated one of the most secure parts of town, making it a great work environment.
The young Pakistani confesses: “I hope this business provides women with a chance to earn a livelihood and improve their lives and self-esteem by showing them how much they are capable of. I earn enough money to support my family and meet all my overheads.”
In 2012, Salma was granted the Sheel Tameer Social Award, celebrating her great work in her community. She recalls: “I went all the way to Karachi with other girls from my community and displayed the Zardozi work at the Shell Tameer Competition Awards 2012. I got a chance to showcase the art of my village and the efforts of all the artisans. Over a 1000 people visited throughout the day. People visited my stall and showed a lot of interest in our work. I was excited when the media came, wanting to interview me and talk to me about my skills. The British High Commissioner also visited and cherished our work. He was the one to award me the certificate.”
Initiatives such as Salma’s are not only equipping Pakistani women with skills, but they are also empowering them to enter the formal workforce and have their contributions recognized nationally.
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