The sight of a woman on a
motorbike still shocks a few in the district of Rahm Yar Khan, but Shazia
Ismael is Secretary of the local HDF Village Development Organization (VDO) and
no one disapproves of the work she’s done for the village.
This mother of four is one of the many women in her community who grew up in extreme poverty. Her father was about to go to Dubai for work when he fell ill. Shazia was only 15 years old when she had to quit school and start stitching clothes with her mother to survive.
Luckily for her, sewing classes were provided to girls in the area at the time. After taking only two of these classes, Shazia became a trainer and worked in a Stitching (Silai) Center for 3 years; eventually opening a center of her own in her home to train more girls in the village.
As a business owner, Shazia was aware of the problems in her community and when HDF entered the picture she took advantage of the opportunities it provided. After becoming Secretary of an all-female HDF Development Organization (DO), Shazia was trained in poultry management and received livestock to care for. She was also able to continue her education and earned an Adult Literacy Certificate (ACL).
As her work continued to grow, Shazia learned to ride her husband’s motorbike and could be seen traveling across the village to motivate and teach other women to become trainers and use microcredit for their own poultry. Shazia quickly became the Secretary of VDO Kahkashan and took on even more responsibility for the village.
Clean drinking water was hard to come by, but thanks to her persistence, HDF introduced a Bio-Sand Water Filtration Plant project in 2010. Shazia and her father were trained to lead the project, and around 30 filtration plants were successfully prepared. Determined to bring cleanliness to her village, Shazia also worked with HDF and its partner PPAF to create a sewage system. She mobilized the women in the village to collect PKR 1 million to build the system. After this, it didn’t take long for the men and women of the village to rally behind her to find solutions to all the village’s problems.
Shazia’s resourcefulness and resolve to improve the lives of her community is inspiring, and her story shows that women can lead their communities to bigger and better things. HDF prides itself on promoting gender equality and empowers women to bring change to their lives and the lives around them.