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Pakistani Woman Empowers Afghan Refugees Through Skill Training

The skill training center was founded last year by 37-year-old Mahira Bashir, a resident of Peshawar.

by TNN Editor - 28 Sep, 2023 1518
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In a modest workshop in Peshawar, a female teacher is imparting valuable sewing skills to a group of Afghan refugee women, equipping them with the means to earn a living.

The skill training center was founded last year by 37-year-old Mahira Bashir, a resident of Peshawar. She established this center in response to the continuous influx of Afghan refugees, who have faced economic hardship and increasing restrictions on women's activities since the Taliban assumed power in 2021.

Mahira Bashir's vision goes beyond sewing. Alongside tailoring, she has introduced workshops for digital skills and beautification courses. Her initiative garnered immediate interest, with hundreds of women eager to acquire new skills, resulting in a lengthy waiting list.

Mahira Bashir envisions training between 250 to 500 students concurrently with assistance. She believes that such training empowers women to play pivotal roles within their communities.

While her primary focus is on Afghan women, Mahira Bashir has also included Pakistani women in her program, increasing opportunities in this conservative region.

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Upon completing the three-month course, women like 19-year-old Fatima, an Afghan refugee now residing in Pakistan, channel their skills into generating modest yet meaningful incomes. Many aspire to launch their businesses.

Fatima, for instance, intends to open a beauty parlor in Peshawar, an endeavor banned in her homeland. She aims to start small, running the salon from her home, with dreams of eventually establishing a thriving business.

It is worth noting that following the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in 2021 and the Taliban's takeover, millions of Afghan refugees sought refuge in Pakistan. Prior to this influx, Pakistan was already hosting approximately 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees, constituting one of the world's largest refugee populations. Additionally, it is estimated that over one million unregistered Afghan nationals currently reside in Pakistan.

Government officials and legal experts report that the Pakistani government, already grappling with its economic challenges, has expressed concerns about the ongoing arrival of Afghan citizens. Authorities have detained several Afghan nationals in recent months, citing the absence of valid legal documents as grounds for arrest.

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