From where I stand: “Many households are prospering because of our work.”

Razia Sultana is a self-made business owner who has helped many other women workers in Pakistan.


Author: Hassan Ali Abbasi

Razia Sultana poses in her office in Sialkot, Pakistan, on 10 March 2021. Photo: UN Women/The Centrum Media
Razia Sultana poses in her office in Sialkot, Pakistan, on 10 March 2021. Photo: UN Women/The Centrum Media

Only when a seed is buried in dust (does) it blossom into a new plant.

Initially, my first job was stitching footballs. After marrying, when I came to (live with) my in-laws, the girls in the community stitched footballs, so I used to sit with them and learn. In the beginning, I earned merely 100-150 Pakistani rupees (USD $1) a week, but then as my children started going to school, the earnings were not enough to meet the family expenses. However, my children also helped in the job, which allowed my earnings to increase to 2,500–3,000 Pakistani rupees (USD $20) per week.

I learned about a training by local organization Baidarie in partnership with UN Women Pakistan on taking orders and subsequently, we got our first order. The first customer gave us an order to just make a sample of a uniform. It was approved and later we received an order for 35 uniforms and for each order, we saved around 15,000-20,000 Pakistani rupees (USD $120). As time passed and we improved and expanded our set-up, more orders started to come by the grace of Almighty.

We have come a long way, from struggling to manage our own expenses to registering our very own company and employing women workers. It gives me immense joy that many households are prospering because of our work. When someone in need comes to me and I am able to help them, that’s what fulfilment and real joy is. So far I have transformed the lives of 200-250 women.

The people who used to criticize me now come and ask how they can improve their income.”

SDG 5: Gender equality SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

Razia Sultana, 47, had only a high school education. In 2016, she started Spiza Sports Co. in Sialkot city of Pakistan’s Punjab province. In 2017, Sultana attended a training organized by UN Women and funded by Proctor & Gamble, called Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs. There she learned about garment-making, online marketing and the use of social media for taking orders. For helping herself and many other workers, she was featured in the Wonder Women of Pakistan series produced by UN Women Pakistan. Her work helps achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5, on gender equality, and Goal 8, on decent work and economic growth.

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