OKARA, PAKISTAN – In Pakistan’s Okara district, a group of women are gaining new opportunities through an entrepreneurship training program. The program, which is being offered by the local government with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), aims to empower women by providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to start and grow their own businesses.
Okara is a rural district in the province of Punjab, located about 100 kilometers southwest of Lahore. The district is home to a large population of farmers, and many women in the area work in agriculture or as laborers in factories. However, these jobs often come with low pay, long hours, and limited opportunities for advancement.
The entrepreneurship training program is designed to help women break out of this cycle by teaching them the skills they need to start their own businesses. The program covers topics such as business planning, marketing, financial management, and product development.
One of the participants in the program, Nida Akhtar, spoke to us about how the training has helped her. “I used to work in a factory, but the pay was very low and the hours were long,” she said. “Now, I have my own business selling homemade soap and other beauty products. The training gave me the confidence and the skills I needed to make my business a success.”
The program is part of a larger effort by the Pakistani government and the UNDP to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality in the country. Pakistan has made progress in recent years, with more women entering the workforce and taking on leadership roles in government and business. However, women in the country still face significant barriers to achieving full equality, including cultural and societal norms that limit their opportunities.
According to a report by the UNDP, women in Pakistan are more likely to live in poverty than men, and are less likely to have access to education, healthcare, and other basic services. By promoting entrepreneurship and economic empowerment, the UNDP and the Pakistani government hope to create new opportunities for women and help them overcome these barriers.
“The entrepreneurship training program is an important step towards empowering women in Okara and other parts of Pakistan,” said Maria Rashid, a gender specialist with the UNDP. “By providing women with the tools and knowledge they need to start their own businesses, we can help them gain greater economic independence and achieve their full potential.”
The program has already had a significant impact on the women who have participated. “I never thought I could be a business owner,” said Sana Khan, another participant. “But now, I have my own clothing shop, and I’m making more money than I ever did before. The training gave me the confidence to go after my dreams.”
The entrepreneurship training program in Okara is just one example of the many ways that Pakistan is working to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality. While there is still much work to be done, programs like this one are making a real difference in the lives of women and their families.