Gender.

Gender-related projects.

The life of the women of the Hushé Valley is a hard one, dedicated basically to supporting their families and working in the fields. Most adult women only speak the Balti language, so they cannot leave their valley and communicate with the outside world as they speak neither Urdu nor English, Pakistan's two official languages. Moreover, a high percentage of these women are illiterate, thus limiting the possibilities of movement and relationship with society.

The girls are married by their relatives at an early age, often among relatives, and once married they leave school and begin the arduous task of being a woman and mother in Baltistan.

The workload that the women bear begins with the care of the children, whose number is around 5 members, the care of the elderly people of the home and of the husband, the maintenance and cleaning of the home and the work in the field cultivating the necessary products for their nourishment.

As can be seen, women have obligations in terms of work both outside and inside the home. It is the woman's responsibility to run the household; as well as to sow, harvest, collect firewood, water, collect the grass for the cattle for winter, take care of the family garden, collect the fruit, process the fruit...

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To this last one it is necessary to add that in summer, the time of more work in the field, many men went away to work as porters or mountain guides, reason why all the work fell on the woman. And yet, although women are dedicated to collecting and processing food, they do not have access to the market.

The role of women in public life is limited, in fact it is not very well seen that women walk alone in the streets, nor that they actively participate in community celebrations.

The Vocational Center for Women

Baltistan Fundazioa timidly began working for the empowerment of women with a view to greater gender equity in the region.

It promoted the creation of a centre from which to promote training in basic and professional skills for women, in order to advance their progressive autonomy and empowerment and thus contribute to improving their quality of life and the development of their community. The first centre of this type was opened in Machulo but the demand was such that it was opened at the request of those interested in other locations in the Valley such as Saling, Tallis, Marzegone-Baleygone or Khandey. The centres called Vocational Center for Women, offer women a place to share their problems and concerns and the possibility of non formal training on topics of their interest and others that can be proposed by the Baltistan Fundazioa within its strategic axes. Thus, during the existence of these centres, courses have been given in dressmaking, English, food and jam making, but also in English and computer science or others related to mother and child health and hygiene. The centre has become the only space in the village where women meet, while learning different techniques or working on their skills, organizing talks, sharing experiences, or simply being in a place for them.

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But in addition, training has also been offered in specific aspects such as the following (corresponding to activities developed in 2016)

Workshop on the manufacture of body hygiene products and hygiene awareness

Three young women have attended a month-long course in the town of Skardu, about 100 km from the valley, to receive training in the subject. The idea of the course was to give women opportunities to create businesses in the valley itself and generate income that would impact on local development in the valley.

A workshop on Women's Human Rights and Gender Awareness for FFB staff

This activity was carried out in Machulo and the technical team and members of the FFB Board of Trustees participated. There was interest and active participation in it. The session was designed by Parveen Bano, expert in Gender and Development.

3 Workshops on community prevention of diseases, for men

Three workshops have been held, which were given by a female doctor, Dr. Saira, and also by a female sensitizer. FFB reports that the men have been happy with the sessions and that the topic has been very well received, despite its sensitivity to culture.

Self-esteem workshops for women

Seven workshops have been held during this period to promote self-esteem. It should be said that they have been implemented with great success despite the fact that this has been a new issue in the valley and that on the part of some women there could be certain reticence or fears due to the subject itself or to ignorance of this important area in human beings. The workshops have been given by Nazneen Zehra, author of the book "Women of the Hushé Valley".

First exchange of knowledge and experiences between adults and young people in various topics

A session was organized for 35 women from all the communities and the following topics were shared: possible business ideas, the usefulness of sharing knowledge between generations to support adult women who have not had the opportunity to have a formal education or to read and write. Saima's assessment is highly positive.

With all this, the range of possibilities has been opening up, and so, thanks to the scholarship programs we have a good number of women working as teachers in schools, others in the health system, and the most daring have launched themselves to create their own micro enterprises of clothing and selling packaged food.

But they have also become aware of their problems and today they celebrate International Women's Day on March 8 every year and have created a women's association in the Hushe Valley.

But there is a long way to go.