Pakistan: More Women Empowered to Help Their Families and Snow Leopards

This summer, the Snow Leopard Foundation, our partner NGO in Pakistan, conducted a special training session for women artisans in Chitral, aiming to improve the quality of the products they craft as part of our community conservation program, Snow Leopard Enterprises. The training helped strengthen and expand these women’s skills, empowering them to continue to play an important role in the economic uplift of the households

Aided by experienced trainers, around 50 artisans from the established handicraft production skill centers in Kuju Bala and Kuju Payee as well as from the brand-new skill center in Kuju Center assessed their current skill level in terms of stitching work and identified areas they could improve.

A woman practices her embroidery skills
A woman practices her embroidery skills during a training workshop in Chitral

Small pieces of cloth were distributed among the participants, and they were asked to trace existing designs onto the cloth and embroider it accordingly. These napkins were then displayed and participants were asked to compare their embroidery with napkins that had been expertly done by the master trainer.

Women artisans in Pakistan
Women artisans in Pakistan practicing their skills

Snow Leopard Enterprises is a conservation program that works directly with the people who share snow leopard habitat to create sustainable economic opportunities that reduce the motivation behind poaching and retribution killing of snow leopards.

The experience and confidence acquired through this training session will not only allow the women artisans of Chitral to improve the quality of the products they sell, it also empowers them to assume an even greater role in the socio-economic development of their rural communities – and in the protection of snow leopards!

One Comment

  1. In the context of Pakistan, especially in the beautiful and culturally diverse Chitral Valley where religious sensitivities often reign high, the term “women empowerment” should be cautiously used. Instead, the plain idea of providing skills training to local men and women and developing a team of highly skilled artisans as envisaged under the SL Enterprises appears rational. Too much abstract talking of women empowerment has become a culture of the NGOs to extract donor funding in the name of development and women empowerment. The docile nature of the communities, long tradition of making local artifacts, harsh winter season, and limited livelihood assets of the households make Chitral an ideal place for transforming villages as places of highly skilled artisans. This in turn would help blending traditional art with the contemporary to produce artifacts in bulk that fetch national and international markets. Engaging communities in local enterprise development with less dependence on natural forests will ensure a harmonized natural environment and create more space for the flagship species like snow leopards.

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