Shirakat’s economic justice program works at several levels; capacity building; micro enterprise development; grassroots action and governance.
Our Women’s Empowerment Programme seeks to create and enable budding female entrepreneurs in the hope of helping them establish sustainable, independent livelihoods. Some of the many ways in which we do this is by;
1) Imparting upon them marketable skills and
2) Helping them access high value markets without the usual exploitation by middlemen.
Nissaaee Hunr (women’s creativity) is the brand under which our home-based workers’ products are introduced to the market to give them maximum recognition. Our dynamic and innovative marketing strategy will allow their products to be sold at their true value. The program uses the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) is a way to improve understanding of the livelihoods of resource poor people.
We use the definition provided by the Sphere Standards: “Livelihoods comprise the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living linked to survival and future well-being.” See: “Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response”, The Sphere Project, Geneva, 2004.
Shirakat has one Training and Production Centre in DI Khan and over 400 women have so far been trained and linked with the market. We constantly strive to find new ways to promote women’s economic empowerment within the region and the whole country.
Shirakat strives to continuously strengthen its functions and processes to fulfill its mission and to respond in a timely and appropriate fashion to the ever-changing market dynamics.
During 2019, new partnerships have been established such as with Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment for Disabled People (VREDP) of Social Welfare and in collaboration with them, Shirakat delivered imitation jewelry training to over 20 women with disabilities and their attendants. Their products are continuously being marketed and design and marketing support is being provided.
Advocacy on a feminist macroeconomic framework for IFIs
At the governance level, Shirakat has begun a programme of analysing IFIs interventions in Pakistan and their impact on women’s lives in Pakistan. Shirakat strives to promote economic justice and increased participation of women in labor force to ensure women development. Our economy faced numerous challenges for past many years showing slow growth rates, high unemployment, deficits in current balance and balance of payments. IMF loans for example have mostly been accompanied by a neoliberal structural adjustment and the conditionals of World Bank/IMF loans. The policies that these FIs advise to the government have consistently had ripple down negative effect on the masses particularly women. Shirakat has conducted a desk review, organised expert group meeting, conducted a national CSO consultation and developed a policy brief presenting the perceptions of grassroots activists on the short term and long term impact on women and children’s lives.