ISLAMABAD, June 19: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Social Welfare and Women Development Sitara Ayaz here on Saturday praised the valiant women of Swat for rising up through a disturbed and conflict situation and beginning earning livelihood by revival of handicrafts.
Speaking at the inauguration of an exhibition of handicrafts by Swati women at the Lok Virsa, she said the women of the province had a lot of skills but they needed access to market to earn income.
She said she would welcome any help to train the people of Malakand Division in order to give a fillip to women?s empowerment in terms of exploiting their skills and potential.
The products displayed at the exhibition made by 500 Swati women are the result of a joint project initiated by UKaid, Heritage Foundation, Unesco and the Lok Virsa.
Ms Yasmeen Lari, the chief executive of the Heritage Foundation, was the moving spirit behind the project that trained 500 women in Swat in making handcrafted stoles, book marks, chains, cellphone cases, napkins and small purses besides revival of handlooms. A number of trainees were also present at the 11 stalls set up to sell the products. Among them were Ms Ghamreen who sat at a spinning wheel and Ms Nasreen Akhtar at a Khadi to demonstrate these traditional skills dating back to thousands of years and now revived.
The revival was done within a limited period of three and half months through a project titled ?Reviving livelihood through handi crafts in post-conflict areas.? Within this period, 500 women were selected by the Karachi-based Heritage Foundation for training. Of these, 327 women artisans were trained in embroidery and 110 in handloom products. Besides, 53 oth ers were trained in making woolen yarns as a tribute to the cultural virtuosity of women artisans of the valley.
Ms Lari told this reporter that bank accounts of Rs6,000 had been opened as a revolving fund for each of the 500 trained artisans. In addition, they would earn about 15 per cent profit out of the sale proceeds of the goods.
The opening session of the exhibition was also addressed by Unesco representative Dr Warren Meller, KP additional chief secretary Ghulam Dastgir and Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javed.
The Norwegian ambassador was also present on the occasion. The embassy has extended help to the project.