RSPN programmes enabled communities in remote areas support their families Village women recount amazing stories of economic empowerment

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Zubair Qureshi

Supported by various economic initiatives of the Rural Support Programme Network (RSPN) like capacity building, community training, skills learning, etc, village communities, particularly women are today economically empowered and contributing to their families’ financial and social uplift.
This was revealed during various sessions of the first day of the annual strategy retreat of the RSPN held at Pearl Continental hotel here Tuesday. The retreat was attended by over 150 participants and organized by the European Union-funded Sindh Union Council and Community Economic Strengthening Support (SUCCESS) programme.
While listening to these women who hail from remote and underdeveloped areas of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan and Sindh, one could not help realize RSPN brought silent revolution in these women’s lives and Dr Sania Nishtar’s Ehsas programme or BISP-needed to take guidance from this organization that has been active in rural areas for the uplift of communities for over twenty years.
Community activist from District Charsadda, Nageen Bibi who is breadwinner of her family and a role model for the women of her area described how RSPN changed her life. I was handed over to my present family in Swara— a custom still in parts of KP in which a girl is given into marriage to an aggrieved family as compensation to settle a feud. In the beginning, I was ridiculed, humiliated and mistreated by male members of my family as they said “Swara women” have no respect or honour,” said Nageen Bibi.
Later, she was approached by RSPN team that launched a community investment programme and after receiving some training in making small decoration items she got some loan from the local bank and tried her hand in manufacturing products that are in demand at the local stores.
It took time and looked hopeless too but by and by it helped her in making small earning through selling those things. In the beginning, I used to go to the shops to take orders but today, they came to my house and place orders,” Nageen said joyfully.
Now, not only she is earning her living (a handsome Rs40,000 a month) but she is also training women of her area and helping them find themselves.
This is not the only story of Nageen Bibi, Naseem Bibi from Nowshera, Haseena Baloch from Rajanpur and many others shared such morale-boosting stories how RSPN brought change in their lives and they earned living as well as respect in the community.

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