Kamla is a resident of Surto Oad village in District Umerkot. Kamla’s father, Mr. Mukesh Kumar, is the sole earner for her family, and was scarcely able to earn enough to support his household of eight people. Women in these villages in rural Sindh are largely dependent on male family members for financial and social support. It is extremely difficult for them to overcome cultural and social barriers to earn an income. For Kamla, who is living with a disability, those barriers are especially difficult: “A I’m a physically disabled woman, I can’t go out for labor in agricultural fields as most of the women do.”
In spite of these difficulties, Kamla is resolved to support her family and help them to build a resilient future free of any financial worries. “I have the art of embroidery. I can do embroidery work at my home also, and I can help my family to reduce financial burden.”
She believes that lack of education, ignorance of health issues and gender discrimination are the major obstacles to women’s empowerment in her community. She stated that when she was informed that an NGO (Community World Service Asia) was establishing an embroidery center at her village, a ray of hope was rekindled for her. She already knew the art of embroidery, but her work was never acknowledged and she did not receive due wages for her laborious work.
Despite having no formal vocational training, she is very skilled in embroidery and produces high quality work. However, as she has been unable to properly market her products, her work remained underpaid. “After taking the artisans’ skill test, I was informed that I have qualified the test and team selected me for the embroidery learning center. I was really glad to hear this news and was highly excited that now my skill will be improved and my work will be recognized with fair wages.”
Kamla explained how participating in the project will support her to earn a real income from her work: “After a three-month course on embroidery, and then an additional three months for production, I will be able to get an idea about marketing those products and what are the rates of market. Then I can assist my father in terms of contributing income.”
Her father will also be engaged in the project activities as a gender activist. Kamla shared how he is working to promote gender equality in the community after participating in Community World Service Asia’s TOT workshop for gender activists: “Since the training, he is delivering lectures on a regular basis with my neighbors and my relatives and motivates them to educate their daughters as well.” She is quite hopeful that the difference between male and female which society has created will now be reduced; women are now talking about their health issues with their male counterparts.
For Kamla, the most important impact of the project has been that she is now empowered to support her family. “Around the clock, I remained in tension, wondering when I would be able to do something for my family. Now I have trust in myself that I can also help my family financially. Despite my physical disability, I can also be independent and can contribute my due share for the betterment of both my family and my community as well.”