NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, NAMA, has signed its first-ever agreement with the UNHCR, to conduct a one-year project to support local and Afghan refugee women in Pakistan.
NAMA’s affiliate, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council and the UN Refugee Agency will partner together to provide artisanal training to skilled and semi-skilled local and Afghan refugee women in Punjab and Islamabad, with the objective to empower women and improve their income-generating capacities.
Some 150 Afghan refugee and Pakistani women will receive training in the craft of weaving. Using these skills, female artisans will then be guided to produce Emirati-inspired designs. The project comes in line with Irthi Council’s key role to support women in the crafts sector and empower them socially and economically through vocational and skills training, and enabling access to market opportunities, leading to the creation of sustainable jobs and incomes.
Rizwan Beyg, an internationally-renowned fashion designer from Pakistan will supervise the quality of artisanal technical training, while UNHCR will conduct the life-skills training.
All those registered with the project will be treated and compensated fairly and ethically, enabling them to support their families.
The MoU was signed by Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA and Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR’s representative in Pakistan, in the presence of Erum Mazher Alvie, Senior Advisor in the Executive Office of H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sheikha Hind bint Majed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council, SBWC, and Rizwan Beyg.
Commenting on the announcement, Reem BinKaram said, “We are pleased to have signed off on our first collaboration with UNHCR, which will take us closer to achieving NAMA’s goal of engaging 10,000 women by 2020.”
She said they have been expanding their efforts to build a strong and far-reaching international partners network that works to empower women in a variety of sectors across the MENASA region.
The NAMA Director explained that the project will help empower hundreds of local and Afghan refugees through craftwork, enabling them to access sustainable livelihoods, and lead to better self-reliance and increased resilience, ultimately boosting the local economy.
Ruvendrini Menikdiwela while appreciating NAMA’s contribution said that this initiative will have a great impact on the lives of the local as well as Afghan refugee women. “Through this project, these women will not only achieve self-reliance in Pakistan but will also improve their future economic prospects upon return to Afghanistan.”
She said that refugee women’s economic empowerment is one of the key objectives of UNHCR livelihood strategy. “UNHCR is committed to ensuring that women are able to make a safe and sustainable living that meets their basic needs and contributes to their dignity,” Menikdiwela added.
The signing came as part of a NAMA delegation visit to Islamabad, Pakistan, where the entity organised a ‘Sharjah Welcomes You’ networking event, to explore areas of cooperation and discuss possible partnerships to further women’s economic empowerment.
The delegation also met with the ASR Institute of Women’s Studies in Lahore, and visited the National University of Sciences and Technology.