Peshawar, 24 January 2022 (TDI): The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched a number of vocational training to empower the people of Pakistan with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

A tweet was posted by the organization recently, announcing the good news for the people living in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) within the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

This area has been increasingly displaced over the years due to rampant security issues. The people have had to move multiple times from their homes. Furthermore, there has been a lack of schools within the region which has deprived the women within the region of any opportunities to build their skills and further seek employment.

Most of the women within the region were either engrossed in housework or were engaged in unpaid work. Samina is amongst one of the many women that were caught in this trap. She is a 26-year-old woman who envisioned becoming a doctor when she was younger.

However, as a result of the great distance between her school and her home, she had to discontinue her education in the second grade. Her life in this regard was mostly occupied with her doing housework.

Later on, she was working within her family’s field under difficult weather conditions without getting paid for her labor. Subsequently, the situation worsened as a result of deteriorating security situations which resulted in staying at home for safety.

This was an extremely difficult time for the family, she explained, as there was little to no food available to them as a result of zero earnings to sustain their livelihoods. This resulted in their family becoming nomads, as they moved to Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

They were left being helpless and homeless. As a result of this, odd jobs were done by her brothers to sustain their family. For ten years, the family waited until the area that was previously their home was cleared and secured enough to be able to be a habitual land.

Efforts made by USAID and UNDP

To create opportunities for such Temporarily Dislocated Persons (TDPs), international organizations created an opportunity to enhance their skills and create a sustainable livelihood for themselves.

The UNDP FATA Economic Revitalization Program (FERP) was implemented as a result of assistance from USAID. Amongst the many aims of the program, there is a plan to provide such dislocated persons with vocational skills training, short-term economic opportunities, business grants, microfinancing options, and training for business incubations.

With the program’s launch, a total number of 2,356 youth individuals out of which 801 were females, have been given training. These trainings have been arranged in a sense that they assist those who desire to learn despite their challenges.

Mobility issues are one challenge that poses a threat to much of the society here, thus certain training such as embroidery, crockery work, quilt making, and fashion designing have been arranged in their villages through the establishment of training centers to make it more accessible to the workers.

The training has also been equipped with the materials needed to assist in their learning such as sewing machines, fabrics, raw materials, and solar panels so that they can start their business.

An Example of Hope

Samina, who desired to become a doctor underwent a vocational training program for 2 months where she developed the skills to make quilts, cushions, and pillows as well as the essential key skills of running a business.

Given her drive to learn, she stayed after class with her instructor, determined to learn sewing and enhance her skills. Furthermore, this training also led to uniting the women within the village further, as previously, there was a lack of socialization within the community.

Currently, Samina owns and runs a home business where she designs and makes quilts, bedsheets, cushions, and curtains, giving her the financial independence she much needed.

A picture of Samina running her home business -UNDP program
A picture of Samina running her home business with the skills developed with the UNDP training program

As Samina states, such developments have resulted in an increase in the amount of food they can now consume. Her business has also successfully expanded to include textiles and fabrics for cars such as cushions for car seats etc.

Her brother assists her in running her business, purchasing raw materials for her from the city, carries out surveys of the market, assists in the production, and also goes out to sell her products. The family now has a financial income of 6000-7000 Pakistani Rupees monthly which significantly helps the family manage the expenses of their household.