Feature: Underprivileged women empowered by working at Chinese-built tailoring center in Pakistan

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 5, 2021
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by Misbah Saba Malik, Li Hao

ISLAMABAD, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Shazia Tariq, a 28-year-old tailor in the Gwadar district of Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province, is elated on finding a platform to earn good money and polish her skills in a tailoring center founded by "Chinese brothers and sisters" in her hometown.

"I had been a tailor since years and I stitched hundreds of dresses for people living in my village," Tariq told Xinhua. "When I heard about job creation at the tailoring center in my area, I jumped at the opportunity and now it is providing me a chance to further polish my skills besides giving me monetary benefits."

Tariq, the single breadwinner of her family after her husband lost his small business amid the COVID-19 lockdown, said she takes a decent amount back home to bear household expenses and it gives her a sense of empowerment.

"It is just the beginning. Our Chinese brothers and sisters are transforming Gwadar and changing the fate of the area. I believe that they will also change the fate of women like me in the center by giving us opportunities to make the best use of our skills to build our future," she said.

As one of the pillar projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Gwadar port has been operated by China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) since 2013.

The tailoring center project was supported by the Chinese Consulate General in Karachi and implemented by the COPHC in collaboration with a local women development organization to support skillful women of Gwadar and help them towards empowerment.

Zaitoon Abdullah, a social worker and coordinator of the tailoring center, told Xinhua that in the initial phase, samples made by the women are being sent to different companies and educational institutes in Gwadar while in the second phase they will prepare uniforms for Chinese companies and educational institutes.

"The women come to the center and make different samples to be sent to the institutes and companies, and they are being paid a monthly stipend by Chinese brothers who have not only provided jobs to locals in Gwadar and good education to our children but are also making local women financially independent," Abdullah said.

She said in the next step, they will stitch uniforms for Chinese companies and a school built by Chinese for locals in Gwadar.

"Women in Gwadar are very talented, but they did not have any platform to show their skills. There are several vocational training institutes to teach basic stitching skills to women, but the center is the first of the kind to provide an opportunity to skilled women to generate income in an organized way," she said.

Most of the women at the center are not much educated, while having big dreams to do something for themselves and their families, so they joined the center and work hard to see their dreams coming true, she said.

She added that they will get a great chance to enhance their skills by working on the modern machines provided by China.

Chairman of the COPHC Zhang Baozhong said the tailoring center is also a starting point for the COPHC to build a complete textile industry chain covering textile printing, garment designing and making in Gwadar to let the locals benefit from industrial development.

"So far, some Chinese and Pakistani textile enterprises have expressed their willingness to cooperate with our tailoring center to provide technological training and management support, and order our products," he said.

To make daily commute convenient, the center is providing free pick up and drop off services.

Local people and public representatives said the tailoring center is a "big step" for women empowerment in the area, which will act as a source of motivation for others.

"Gwadar is a small area. Here everyone knows each other. The few women going out of their homes in traditional dress in good vehicles and coming back home in time are the role models for others to follow and make a mark in the society," Majid Sohrabi, former mayor of Gwadar, told Xinhua. Enditem

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