From Where I Stand: I can now provide for my children’s food and education
Samina Kausar, now 38, struggled to provide for her five children after leaving her abusive drug-addicted husband. But after receiving support and training from the programme Women Entrepreneurship and Gender-Responsive Procurement, she was able to establish a stitching centre with other women and rebuild her life.
Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Author: Habib Asgher
I was born to parents belonging to the lower middle class in a small village near Sialkot in north-eastern Pakistan. I lived a simple and peaceful life before marriage, but my ordeal started as soon as I stepped into my husband’s house. My husband was a drug addict who would expect from me to work and provide for his bad habits. I would work at home stitching working gloves, only to see my meagre income taken away by my husband. I lived through constant humiliation, violence and dilemma for years. But I survived. I bore two daughters and three sons. One day when I was pregnant with my youngest child, my husband beat me badly for not being able to give him enough money. I reached out to my brother, who convinced me to end this violent relationship and supported my divorce. My husband agreed to the divorce without any remorse or apparent concern for our children.
Although he only had a limited income of his own, my brother started to provide for me and my children. He is very kind and compassionate, but I always felt like we were a liability he hadn’t asked for. I started stitching working-gloves from home again to contribute to the family income.
Around that time, I got to know about this project and applied to the visiting team of Baidarie, the project implementing partner of UN Women in Sialkot. I was one of 52 women who were selected, put in groups and given the capacities to start and run our own businesses. I was encouraged to turn away from thoughts that made me pessimistic, to speak up, and to never abandon hope. I was further supported with vocational skills training. I started my own stitching centre along with other community women at the house gifted to me by my brother.
This started to change my life for good!
I taught the skills I had learned from two trainings to other women from my village. Now I have 15 machines where women work with me on a per-piece basis. We collectively produce about 50 pieces of boxing gloves, 50 martial-arts belts and 700 sports bandages every day. Now each one of us makes around Rs. 18,000 to 20,000 (USD114-127) per month. While I’m still living with my brother, I can now provide for my children’s food and education. Once fault-finders, community members now come to me for guidance and support on doing similar things. I don’t snub them. Rather I try to help them in whatever way possible for me. I’m thankful for what I’ve become today.
Self-assurance and hard work are the keys that can unlock opportunities for anyone. I aspire to live independently with my children, provide them with a good-quality education, and do not want them to share the same fate which I went through in my early years of married life.
Kausar was among 52 women who received enterprise development training under the UN Women project Women Entrepreneurship and Gender-Responsive Procurement, funded by Procter & Gamble. They learned business feasibility and market analysis skills, as well as techniques to develop market linkages and start and sustain a business. A three-month training on stitching boxing gloves and other goods used in martial arts was also arranged for Kausar at her stitching centre. She further trained 15 women from her village who now get paid per piece.
Her story relates to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, which calls for decent work for all, and SDG 10, which aims to reduce inequalities by 2030 and promote social, economic and political inclusion of all, and income growth for the poorest.