Ayesha Javeri, Executive Vice President of All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA), reports:
Alongside the running of daily projects such as education at our schools, health at our clinics and craft at our industrial centres, this year we reopened a training and selling shop on our premises in the heart of the city.
This shop called “Pink Building” has encouraged women to put their home made wares for sale and of the sale money leave 10% for our expenses of electricity, tax and the lady supervisor. We had an enthusiastic response from genteel housewives who put their jams and chutneys in there, from artisan women who exhibited their pottery and of course our jail projects.
The Jail Project was started in the late 90”s by the APWA Youth Brigade, who were students and graduates. They empathized with the captive women, often completely innocent in a male dominated atmosphere, and APWA sent a teacher to instruct their sewing and handicrafts, the machines were provided by APWA. Today it has grown into a fully fledged industry that put up articles for sale at exhibitions. The proceeds and the stipends after expenses, are given to these ladies to use, and this encourages them to be entrepreneurs at the release time. So they are cared for and the world is cared for too, for if they are guilty they will now have an incentive to stay straight.
Another challenge was the 1st World Muslim NGO’s meeting in Malaysia on 23rd – 25th September, 2016 where I was invited to represent All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) I was given one of the phase that is “Peace Building Efforts made by Pakistan” by Prof. Kamar Oniah K Kamaruzaman. We met to establish and also challenge the different concepts that have grown up concerning women’s identity in Islamic countries. Working under the cultural shades, they have often formulated concepts that are quite alien to the spirit of the religion.
Pakistan is the only country on this globe that opened its doors to the Muslim brethren of Afghanistan and accepted gracefully more than 2 million refugees fleeing from the war in their land, first by the Russian invasion and then by the Taliban.
With the genuine refugees, silently in their fold, came tribal minded, women oppressors whose concept of Islam was an antithesis to Rasullah’s preaching. Tey said women can be beaten, must not work, must be completely covered in BLUE shrouds, so no identity cards, no property holders and no say in marriage contract.
They have stayed on for 30 years trying to impose their narrow minded concept by guns and suicide blasts under the guise of religion. Pakistan is a vibrant society where there are enlightened women like our Founder Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan. APWA was awarded the PEACE Messenger Award from UNITED NATIONS and today we have made honour killing to be called murder, the marriage age and consent to be 18 years and the divorce law to be notified in 4 months.