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Building on traditional patterns for women empowerment at grassroots level.

Bakhteari QA
Development. 1988; (4):55-60.

UNICEF aided the Basic Urban Services for Katchi Abadie (BUSTI) in performing and action research project in order to study and improve the role of poor women in Pakistan. The study was conducted in Baldia Town Karachi (pop. 200,000 in 1979) and lasted over 6 years (1979-1986). Women and children were hired to work on the Baldia Soakpit Pilot project and were found to be illiterate. Distance, lack of money, and the need for help around the house were cited as reasons for illiteracy among children. The women in the community organized a traditional program of home schooling in 1981 and hired 10 girls who had at least a high school education to teach. 300 children participated in this program. The Baldia Memon Jamat NGO offered a health training program for young girls of the community. Several criteria, including teaching experience and economic status, were used to choose among the applicants. The home school program has expanded since 1981. 120 teachers and 4000 children took part in the program in 1988. The teachers organize a mothers' meeting once a month and are now registered as the Home School Teachers' Welfare Organization. Primary care and vaccinations are given through the home schools. Women play crucial roles in the development of the project, as developers, managers, and organizers. Young women have gained independence through education without sacrificing traditional values. The utilization of women in and by this program has helped increase women's self-esteem and has increased respect for these women from the community. The hope is that traditional barriers against the participation of women in community development will eventually be eradicated.

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