Stories

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Jesmin Aktar lives in a village of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. She regularly attends UN Women's "Shanti Khana" [Multi-Purpose Women's Centre – MPWC] learning sessions and is dedicated to improving her life by pursuing a challenging job and contributing to society.
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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.
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Farheen Sarwat, 49, has worked as Senior Emergency Staff Nurse since 1989 at the Holy Family Hospital Rawalpindi, a city adjacent to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
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“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.
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Farming is all that I know, my only source of income. I first began working in the fields with my father when I was 10 years old and after that with my husband, to whom I was married off when I was 13. I became a widow nearly three years ago and have to support eight children—seven daughters and one son. I was landless with no entitlement to the crops or land where I work. It is really hard work especially the harsh summers we face. Being a woman,...
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Saba Ismail started working on peacebuilding in Pakistan when she was 15 years old. The perceptions about young people is a major barrier to their engagement in peacebuilding, she says, as their work is not taken seriously. The heightened insecurity makes it even harder for young women. Still, she hopes to see diversities celebrated and everyone contributing to peace. I come from Peshawar, a province in the north-west Pakistan, where extremist and radical...