Women

Most adult women in the Hushe Valley are illiterate and have a hard life; relegated to domestic and care work, as well as subsistence farming. They are not part of collective decision-making, because of cultural and religious issues, and face numerous barriers to achieving basic rights such as access to education, health, freedom of movement or free choice. Many of these women do not speak Urdu (the lingua franca of Pakistan), making it very difficult for them to seek better life options.

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Baltistan Fundazioa has been accompanying the women of the Hushe Valley in their empowerment processes since 2006, with the aim of training and strengthening them so that they themselves can lead their own development. BF's gender projects in the valley began with the VTC (Vocational Training Centers), training centers for women that offer various training such as: sewing, design, weaving with wool, making natural hygiene products, computers, literacy, human rights and self-esteem, among others. VTCs are not only training centres, but also meeting places where women can express themselves freely in a safe environment.

The results are very positive and the most relevant in the period 2015-2018 are:

  • More than 1200 women have participated in strategic training focused on their empowerment and at least 10 women have been specifically trained in disciplines aimed at changing community roles: driving 4x4 vehicles or maintaining sewing machines.
  • The two generational lines, adult and young, of exchanges of knowledge organized by the women themselves has endowed young and old with education, within the power relations between educated and illiterate people and places them socially in a much more advantageous and egalitarian position.
  • The larger scholarships provided since 2008 support girls' access to higher education. Some of them are for medical studies, physiotherapy and gender. This training and subsequent employment opportunities will give women real autonomy.
  • The basic computer training of 28 women has also contributed to women's access to technological tools and access to the outside world until now forbidden to them.
  • A pilot experience of cooperative work has been initiated after training in the Hunza Valley, attended by 30 women who had never left the valley before. This step is currently giving women the necessary protected environment to be able to know through practice what the cooperative and entrepreneurial world is, and under the protection of the VTCs, 12 entrepreneurial activities have been launched.
  • Despite the fact that there is still a long way to go, the women of the valley are beginning to vindicate their rights with increasing force. One of the great achievements of the valley women was the recent creation of the first women's association in the area, the HVWA. This is a milestone as it is the first step for women's active participation in collective decision-making within their own communities.
  • The 12 women from the most veteran TCV committees promote three new committees and all are trained in management and sustainability.
  • The women of the Hushe Valley organize for the first time since 2017 the 8th of March with the participation of more than 200 women.
  • The work with the male collective on gender issues, actions previously unthinkable, are gradually being seen in the collective visionary as more normal and increasingly have a greater attendance at these workshops by men (185 men in the workshops of family health and gender).