Empowering underprivileged women through vocational training and job placement.
Pakistan has the sixth largest population in the world, two-thirds of which is under the age of 25. The country also has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world and nearly half of the population cannot read or write. This is especially true for women, with severe consequences on their access to the labour market: while the male labour participation rate is 82%, only 22% of women are active in the workforce. In addition to their low level of education, restricted mobility and cultural barriers prevent women from easily finding a job.
The Citizens Foundation (TCF) has created a unique programme that offers training for disadvantaged women with the ultimate goal of helping them earn a living to become more autonomous and support their household incomes. TCF is the largest private sector provider of formal education to the less-privileged and also the largest private sector employer of women in Pakistan. It has already developed community projects to provide training to Pakistani women and has tailored them to women’s needs and local culture: all TCF’s projects take place within local communities, a solution that prevents women from having to travel long distances or stay away from home, while enabling them to benefit from TCF’s vocational courses.
The Trafigura Foundation and TCF have joined forces to provide certified tailoring training to 1,440 women. Beyond tailoring skills, TCF also offers financial literacy training – empowering women to take control of their finances.
Once women successfully complete the training programme, TCF gives graduates the opportunity to earn an income as “apprentices”. TCF is launching an innovative and streamlined business model that offers income-generation opportunities to tailoring graduates while securing the in-house production of its school uniforms and also tapping into fashion-oriented customer segments to secure further clientele for its apprentices. Working in partnerships with mid-sized textile entrepreneurs to secure work orders, TCF ensures a regular stream of income for the women. More enterprising graduates in TCF’s urban locations are encouraged to start their own businesses, taking stitching orders from the community.
COVID-19 special support
In 2020, the Trafigura Foundation provided a special grant to TCF. This grant covered the expenses of a school in Taxila, Pakistan, attended by 174 disadvantaged students, in recognition of the threat to the education sector posed by the pandemic and the widening inequalities it exposed. This grant paid the salaries of staff and allowed teachers to create special resources for students without TV or internet access to continue their education at home.