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The Empowerment of Chitrali Women – Mahraka

Chitral Women sewing

Mahraka center was opened in July 2019 in Chitral to provide a hub where women from Chitral can come and meet each other, be inspired by each other, and seize opportunities for the fulfillment of well-being, skills development, and Economic Empowerment. The center runs a variety of educational workshops, training opportunities to enhance the skills of artisans.

“Making and Taking Space” for the women of Chitral has been the priority in this project. Mental health issues and suicide are significant in the region, particularly among women. They become squeezed between a “Can do” internet world of virtual connectivity and the isolation and loneliness of a “Can’t do” reality of cultural and geographical restraints. Priorities of addressing poverty, equality, and education for girls are all high on the agenda of the Pakistan government and these are among the United Nations Sustainable Development goals announced in 2019. The project was much needed. and will continue into the future.

Adil Iqbal has been working with this community since 2010. Armed with an abundance of local knowledge and a local network of artisans, Adil joined Kilcheran as a sustainability facilitator co-designing this project with Kho and Kalashi, a local women’s cooperative which focused on embroidery. A formal MOU agreement was set up, and Kilcheran committed to supporting the project for 1 year. Kilcheran had developed numerous “blueprint” social enterprise business templates, and this partnership created the opportunity to replicate them in different cultural circumstances and to fully understand the replication and dovetailing process to fulfill the exact community needs. It was Kilcheran’s first international replication of the business “blueprints”. Behind the project was all the systems built up by STIR network and WASTE innovations since 2002 and which has become known as ”Vertical Take-off”. Here lies the key factor in the rapid development and success of the project thus far

Mahraka acts as a vehicle to support the wellbeing of craft communities through a non-profit community center. It runs other enterprises according to the community need and opportunities e.g. an internet café creates a much-needed opportunity for the women to have a safe space for support, skills training, and livelihood opportunity. It also provides business support services such as photocopying, ID photos, etc.

The team consists of a partnership between Kilcheran, sustainability facilitators in Scotland and Kho and Kalashi, women’s co-operative in Chitral. Adil Iqbal and Fiona Macpherson from Kilcheran are lead facilitators on the project.
The Chitral team consists of Mansura Shams, Project manager, and six full-time staff who manage different areas of
Mahraka. Additionally, the centre works with regular volunteers from the local community and freelance homebased artisans. We work with a wide range of young girls and women who come from diverse and marginalized backgrounds.

Mahraka has been able to accomplish great achievements in a very short time that includes Fundraising, Mahraka Center, and the launch of Fusion brand which consists of locally made products from Chitral leading to Kho and Kalashi Development, Replication of Kilcheran’s blueprint, Sustainable Community Development Forum, and Employment.

Women empowerment projects are much needed in Chitral to improve the lifestyle and employment opportunities of the local women.

Previously, Chitral Tribune featured story of Shah Puri as a motivation for Women Empowerment in Chitral.

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1 comment

Shah Karez May 6, 2020 at 8:45 am

This is highly healthy development, lets pray for its success.

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