Community World Service Asia is working to empower young women in rural Sindh through improved earning opportunities, literacy skills, and enhanced awareness of gender equality.  Kaveeta is eighteen years old and lives in Walhar village in Umerkot, where the project is being implemented in partnership with Y Care International and UK Aid.

She is engaged in the project as an artisan and an instructor at the Adult Literacy Center.  Currently, her entire household subsists on around Rs. 6,000 (approximately US$57) a month. “Lack of income means doing everything the hard way,” she explains. “We are struggling to get food.”  For Kaveeta and her family, meeting the basic needs of nutrition, health and education is a constant challenge.

When Community World Service Asia initiated the project in her village, a local steering committee was formed and the members met with the community to tell them about the project and encourage them to participate.  Kaveeta was already experienced in appliqué work, and wanted the opportunity to polish her skills.  At the Vocational Training Center, she has learned about working in a group to improve the quality, as well as about different color combinations, finishing and packing products, pricing, and how to negotiate with suppliers.

Due to Kaveeta’s skills, she was selected to produce handicrafts to be displayed and sold at the Daachi Foundation Exhibition in Lahore in November 2015.

“That was a great experience,” she shares. “Our trainer told us that we have to prepare quilts for the exhibition and we had just fifteen days to complete this order.  At first I was nervous and thought, ‘How can this order be completed in just two weeks?’ But when I started to work in the group, we completed the order on time and realized the importance of group work. That was the first time we prepared quilts with modern designs, that’s why I was very excited.”

Kaveeta received payment from Community World Service for her contributions to the exhibition.  As she continues to earn an income, she hopes to one day open her own center where she will teach others what she has learned through her participation in the project.

“Teaching adults is special for me,” she says. Kaveeta’s affinity for teaching motivated her to volunteer as an instructor at the Adult Literacy Center, where she helps her fellow artisans to develop literacy skills. “I enjoy this work because I want to teach all the women of my village.  They are interested in learning.  It is a big achievement that artisans learned to write their names.”

Through her participation, Kaveeta is building not only her handicraft skills, but her confidence as well.  She has high hopes for her future and for the future of the women in her village.  Community World Service Asia looks forward to continuing to work with her and to realize those hopes.


With support from the Danish Center for Culture and Development, Community World Service Asia is bringing together rural artisans from Thatta and Umerkot in Sindh, and design students from Karachi.  Through their collaboration, traditional skills will be combined with marketable designs, enabling these women to connect to the urban market and earn a sustainable income from their craft.  This month, students from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS) and the Textile Institute of Pakistan (TIP) visited Umerkot and Thatta respectively, in order to meet the artisans with whom they will be working, and gain some insight into their way of life and conditions of work.


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.”

DurationApr 01, 2015Mar 31, 2018
LocationDistrict Umerkot, Thatta, Sindh Province
Key Activities
  • Developing women’s skills in embroidery, dying, block printing and quilting through vocational training;
  • Formation of Women’s Enterprise Groups;
  • Training of women with basic literacy and numeracy skills as Sales and Marketing Agents;
  • Training of skilled women as Quality Assurance Supervisors;
  • Gender awareness activities to sensitize communities on gender discrimination and encourage support of women’s income-generation, control over resources and household decision-making;
  • Formation of Household Gender Action Groups
Participants700 women in vocational training
3,080 immediate and 7,560 extended household members benefitting from increased income
1,400 men and community members benefitting directly from gender sensitization activities
3,450 community members sensitized on gender issues through Gender Action Groups