Farzana finds independence to build her future

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In Pakistan, many women find it difficult to access stable, formal employment – often because of prejudices about their capabilities or a lack of employable skills and training caused by difficulty accessing education. This lack of economic independence means many young women are pushed into early marriage or unable to leave dangerous, abusive situations.

When Farzana was a young woman in Lyari, Pakistan, her father passed away and she was forced to leave her studies in order to go to work and earn money for her family. Farzana tried to make ends meet by stitching clothes for women in her neighbourhood, and took a variety of short-term, precarious jobs to supplement that income. It was exhausting and difficult. But, despite the challenges of providing for herself and her mother, Farzana never gave up.

In 2016, Farzana took a job as a coach in Right To Play’s GOAL program, and things started to take a turn for the better. The GOAL program helps children across Pakistan develop confidence and excel in their studies using sports and special games that strengthen their concentration, teamwork, and communication skills. The section of the program Farzana coaches is known as GOAL-EE, which includes a special focus on financial literacy and entrepreneurship for girls who are excelling within the regular GOAL program.

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Farzana teaches women and girls about their rights, during classes designed to build employable skills and confidence.

Only a few years older than the girls she was coaching, Farzana led activities to help them build employable skills and boost their confidence, teaching them about financial literacy, planning, goal setting, and self-discipline. The girls also learn to develop budgets, identify interests that could be turned into business ideas and create business plans they could one day pursue. And as she mentored these young girls, she began to dream about running her own business.

Farzana’s training as a GOAL Coach helped her learn English and take computer courses. She was able to return to school and complete her education while continuing her work as a Coach. The program also provided a unique opportunity for her to apply for a seed grant to start her own business and pursue her dreams of entrepreneurship.

Farzana applied and won. She was ecstatic. She used the money to help fund a small community centre and social enterprise that houses women-run businesses and a training centre. She employs five people and regularly that holds classes to support women and girls to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to secure stable employment and take steps towards financial independence.

“If I hadn’t joined the GOAL program, I would have never had the chance to set and achieve my goals and objectives in life. The program empowered me to think critically, save, invest wisely and be resilient.”

Along with the employment and financial literacy training, Farzana continues to promote the importance of gender equality in her community, integrating messages about the rights of women and girls in to all of the classes they run.