Saba Gul’s project, BLISS, has been progressing wonderfully since our last update, and thefirstline of Bliss handbags will be released this fall! Saba partnered with Barakat Pakistan to incorporate traditional Turkmen embroidery skills into Barakat’s school schedule to help women create a new livelihood and enhance their earning potential. Since the project’s establishment, Bliss’ popularity has grown and many girls want to be involved!
“I was first inspired to join the cause for women’s education when I heard Barakat Programs Director, Arti Pandey and former Executive Director, Damon Luloff speak at MIT in winter 2008. Bliss began from the idea that if there were more incentives for girls to go to school instead of working all day, school would not be seen as an opportunity cost over income generation. “
During Saba’s first visit to Attock, she discovered the extraordinary embroidery skills these women possessed. Saba soon realized that pairing their skills with a basic business model could be a tremendous incentive.
“Women are marginalized in their own communities. Many rarely come out of their own homes. Exposure to their communities will instill confidence in the girls and enable them to seek out their own livelihoods. Education is the first step and can lead to opening of more markets and more job generation, not to mention the teaching of proper hygiene and healthcare.”
In order to maintain enrollment rates in the embroidery program, Saba explained that BLISS wanted to involve mothers in the embroidery classes to encourage girls to stay in school and increase income for Attock’s families:
“Involving mothers targets a population that is largely excluded from normal society because of linguistic barriers. Many Afghan refugees in Pakistan don’t speak Urdu, a dominant language in Pakistan, making participation in society and even leaving the house even more difficult.”
Saba’s plan for the next five years at BLISS is to make the program financially self-sufficient, and to expand the project to involve more girls within Attock and then throughout other regions in Pakistan.
“We are hoping to target girls who don’t come to school at all” Saba explained.
Additionally, Saba hopes to partner with bigger names in the fashion industry in both Pakistan and the US in order to get more publicity and recognition for the amazing skills these women have.
You can read more about Saba’s work and be the first to know when the bags are available for purchase through her website.