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Sughar: Pakistan's First Ever Rural Women Brand

This 15th of Feb 2012 marked a significant day in the Fashion Industry of Pakistan as Pakistan's first ever Rural Women Brand called Sughar was launched by Rural Women from Sindh and Balochistan facilitated by Sughar Women Program of Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI) A national nonprofit in Pakistan.

Sughar Women Program is a social enterprise program of PDI which operates in more than 20 villages in Sindh and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan is aimed at ending the negative customs of exchange marriages, child marriages, honour killings by promoting the beautiful traditions and providing socio-economic empowerment to women in tribal communities of Pakistan.

After having been operating in Balochistan for a few years Sughar is recently supported by International Labour Organization (ILO) to scale in Sindh where Sughar under its innovative strategy establishes Women Centers in each village offering a 6 month course to tribal women. The course involves value-adding the traditional embroidery and provides basic education and literacy skills. It raises awareness of rural women on their equal status and rights. Each course offers a minimum loan to each woman after graduating to initiate Primary Production Units at their homes thus promoting women entrepreneurship which greatly influences their power to ownership and decision making and hence changes their status in the society.

This Fashion Show was part of the Sughar’s strategy to launch Pakistan’s first ever Rural Women Brand named Sughar (English Translation: Skilled and Confident Woman) under the Sughar Women Program starting via an exhibition of the products which included stylish Hand Clutches, hand bags, and traditional-cum modern dresses from Sindh and Balochistan. The fashionable and fabulously designed products were the source of attraction to many who were amazed at the talent and skills of rural women, some of whom were present at the event enjoying each compliment and talking happily.

“The idea behind launching a brand and not sticking to traditional methods of marketing the embroidery is to give women and their skills the space that they deserve”. Says the Sughar team, “Brands, fashions and new trends have become more of a culture now, why not use our older and beautiful culture to become a part of this new culture, which would not only become a way to empower these women but to prove to the world that Pakistan is a country full of colorful traditions and folklore.

Each Sughar product depicted a folk story or a tradition that is followed in diverse communities of Pakistan. In the Brand Launch the story of Umer Marvi had its best place where Dancing Camels and Water Pots of Umer Marvi on Hand Clutches as well as Marvi herself was beautifully embroidered on a wall hanger.

Working with 500 women already in the two provinces, Sughar says its next stop is Umerkot District of Sindh where ancient folklores and traditions are a treasure of all times, while the Sughar Products apart from being easily available in Pakistan are now available in the US as well as in London through valuable partnerships with core persons and organizations.

According to Sughar Women Program of PDI, the power of persistence on our path comes right from the fact that the team that operates Sughar also belongs to villages like those we work in, the struggle that they already have done to change their own lives is a strong force for us to try that once again for each women in rural and tribal areas of Pakistan to unleash that “Sughar” in each of them!

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