Empower Women - I Change Her Life
Empower Women is a courageous endeavor to eliminate poverty and empower underprivileged women living under oppressive social norms. I Change Her Life has been working to bring about positive Social Change at grass-root level by engaging women in meaningful endeavors that help to empower them socially and economically. The campaign helps to create awareness about gender violence, child marriages and unlawful selling of underage girls as sex slaves. The organization helps IDPs (Internally displaced persons) in Pakistan and Refugee girls in Turkey. I Change Her Life creates hope for women who have unconsciously accepted a state of 'learned helplessness' by helping them recognize their potential to build a better life for themselves and their future generations. Strategic partnerships and alliances have increased the scope of social impact of this enterprise to encompass 25 villages in KPK (Khyber Pakhtoon Khua) region in Pakistan and refugee girls in Turkey.
Self-Reliance and not Charity! I Change Her Life believes in this motto and embraces this ideology in all its operations. The core mission of the organization is to eliminate poverty through meaningful endeavors that produce sustainable changes in the society. I Change Her Life conducts workshops focused on capacity building, skill-based training and psychological uplifting to build resilience among underprivileged women thus enabling them to rely on their personal achievement to change their lives instead of external help in the form of charity that further pushes people in a 'victim mode'. I Change Her Life addresses core issues faced by women and girls living in remote communities under patriarchal leaders and provides realistic solution
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
I Change her Life carries out projects based on extensive rehabilitation programs designed specifically to empower women and girls. Dr. Zaman has designed the brochure herself to include all aspects of training in the manual. The workshops are conducted in collaboration with credible non-profit partners working in KPK. I Change Her Life works alongside its field partners by leveraging their network and shares the ideas and knowledge thus learned through various well-managed projects in villages known for patriarchal norms and oppressive social systems that prevent young women and girls from seeking avenues of personal growth and development. The user-friendly manual is illustrated to help the uneducated females grasp the concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. The Community Development Personnel working on behalf of I Change Her Life interact with local community development officers to create awareness regarding abuse and violence against women.
The training manual used in the workshops is illustrated to simplify concepts and makes it easy for women to understand various modules of training included in the workshop. Moreover, the research segment in the manual helps in better understanding of the population in a particular demographic and can be used later for developing better programs based on the understanding of the communities. So far I Change Her Life has collected extensive data between 2009- 2015. The research data is currently under review, and Dr. Zaman is in the process of writing a detailed analysis of the findings.
I Change Her Life has been able to improve more than 83,000 lives through its multiple projects conducted from 2009 to 2015 along with its non-profit partners. The organization has been instrumental in creating awareness in socially oppressed regions regarding rights of women and how women can effectively counter negative elements in their lives by developing their skill-set and earning income to support themselves and their families. Before the operations by I Change Her Life, women in remote areas of Pakistan had little or no support systems to voice their concerns regarding marital abuse, poverty or divorce due to lack of dowry. I Change Her Life has created a platform for women to speak up about their problems while providing means for women to earn income within their cultural and social boundaries. The various initiatives by the enterprise have significantly altered the attitude of men towards the role of women in their communities and they have become more receptive to change.
Bringing about social change is a long and tedious process. The arduous journey required endless negotiations with local 'Jirga' or local bodies in remote areas of Pakistan to convince them that the organization was helping to create a positive social change. The local authorities initially thought that I Change Her Life was working on behalf of some foreign agency and wanted to impose international agenda on their communities. Therefore, building the trust required open dialogue and discussion in public forums that had to be conducted under sensitive cultural norms with the help of skilled translators. The IDPs and refugees were the hardest to work with because the women were suffering from deep depression and Post Traumatic Stress that made it difficult for the community workers to associate with them. The women were encouraged to talk openly in groups for several weeks before initiating the training to help them recover from their ordeals.
Social change requires building mutual trust that depends on deep understanding and empathy. It is not an overnight process. In fact, it is a delicate and sensitive procedure that requires a paradigm shift that most enterprises do not understand. The shift in perspective happens when both parties keep authenticity at the center of dialogue and keep an open heart and flexible approach to problem-solving rather than rigidly impose their viewpoints on others. Real leadership requires leading from the heart and being sensitive to the needs of others.