Zahid Jan

A women vocational training college is playing crucial role in economic and social empowerment of women in Bajaur district.

Government Women Vocational College, besides economic empowerment of women, is also helping change well-entrenched social attitudes about females’ role in society.

A place like Bajaur, where it was inconceivable for women to venture out of the safety of their homes sometimes back, it is sea change for females to be allowed to go out for vocational training. A large number of local women have gone to this college for vocational training, while many among them have learned carpet making.

This has led to income generating opportunities for the women.

Though there are no two views about role of women economic empowerment in economic development of a country. However, women in Pakistan in general and tribal areas in particular have very little economic role to play.

The situation in tribal areas is even more worrying as there women are deprived from their right to work, business and property in the name of Pashtun traditions.

However, the success of Bajaur vocational college shows that the hard attitudes towards women work are changing.  The college itself has played a crucial role in making this transformation possible.

Ambreen Mehsud, who started this college back in 2016, told TTN that she was trying to impart skills to illiterate women and those who have to quit studies to enable to them to work from home.

She said that under the Prime Minister Kamyab Jawan scheme, they imparted carpet making training to 20 girls for the first time. Ms Mehsud said that they were also trying to link these newly trained artisans to business firms outside of the district.

She said that Afghan refugees improvised local carpet and Afghani carpet became a household name; however, local carpet disappeared in this process. Ms Mehsud said that they were trying to revive local carpet.  “We want to see local carpet in the market once again,” she said.

Ms Mehsud said that this besides reviving a dying art at the same time generate income from it for local artisans.

“It was really hard to persuade to local women to get enroll in college and way more difficult was to impart them carpet making skill,” she said.

Ms Mehsud said that they also managed to hire a local carpet maker to train, her students in carpet making. She said that thus far they have trained 20 girls in carpet making.

These women are expected to make carpets for international carpet seller under a memorandum of understanding. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority is also helping for better future of these newly trained artisans.

Ms Mehsud that hand woven Bajauri carpet would be in the market soon.

She said that the college has imparted different skills training to a total of 750 women thus far. Besides two batches of online freelance course have completed their trainings while a third was still in the process.

We started this course during Covid-19 pandemic and it was really helpful, she said.

Ms Meshud said that a nearly forgotten carpet has been revived at this center by the local women. She said that 20 girls were being trained in carpet making while they have received 17 applications for the next batch.

The vocational center also runs training in stitching and other trades for females.

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