Today we are announcing a big achievement at Sughar! The launch of the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Sughar Foundation.
As many of you are aware, our goal at Sughar Empowerment Society has been to reach out to 1,000,000 women. From 2009 until now, we have worked hard to create effective solutions for the empowerment of women, worked with tribal leaders in raising awareness among men, and failed fast to rise strong. In these 7 years, Sughar's model has taken several shapes, each time growing into something stronger than before, better than before and more effective than ever before. And today, with the announcement of Sughar Foundation, we are sure that this step will get us thousands of miles closer to our goal!
This is How
Sughar Foundation will amplify our growth and impact by partnering with strong organizations working on the ground in Pakistan. By selecting organizations that are equipped with greater capacity and outreach in tribal areas, the Foundation will replicate successful models from Sughar's process in areas in need. Below is a glimpse of our journey from when Sughar started as an idea in 2009.
2009 - Formation of Sughar Empowerment Society
The idea of Sughar emerged after a huge failure. In 2008 and early 2009, we were involved in campaigning against the custom of Honor Killings through advocacy and publicly shaming tribal leaders. This led to a huge backlash from the the local communities in Balochistan, effectively ending of our activities in the campaign.
In those times, everything looked bleak and the chances of us ever working in the same communities again seemed impossible. However, a light shone upon a path and we came up with a new idea—to preserve the beautiful tribal cultures, and educating tribal communities against customs like Honor Killings, as opposed to our previous methods. As soon as we planned this, we immediately started working with the same communities by promoting their tribal language, music and embroidery.
We formed the first Sughar Center, the Women's Literacy and Skills Center.
A Sughar Center is a room rented or donated by a local villager where 30 women take a 6 month training course facilitated by 3 locals. These locals have been trained by our team in skills development, entrepreneurship and awareness about their rights. The use of local facilitators proved to be a successful model for replication, across 10 villages, as well as scaling to the Sindh province in 2011.
2011 - Scaling to Sindh
Early in 2011, with the help of the International Labor Organization, we scaled to Sindh and formed Sughar Centers in 10 villages in Thatta. With a passionate goal and team, we were able to create great impact within the first few months of our presence—engaging local leaders, mobilizing men and women, and training local facilitators to make 300 women part of the Centers!
2012 - Sughar Nomads
However, as soon as Sughar started picking up momentum in Sindh we encountered new cultural issues and social issues. Rumors quickly started spreading about the Sughar Centers—as being non-Islamic, supporting initiatives that compel tribal women to act Western—within the villages and several men stopped women from attending.
That is when we decided to engage more directly with men and launch Pakistan's first ever fashion brand for tribal women, to create more income for women. Sughar Nomads quickly became popular among communities and cities in Pakistan because of their beautifully embroidered designs. I still can't forget the day a man in one of the villages brought back his sister and wife to the Center to be trained.
2013 - Sughar Hubs
While Sughar was effective at working directly with local communities and empowering women, it was only focused on solving one major problem: increasing women's decision making powers and income generation. There are dozens of other issues that these communities face on a daily basis. The majority of those pressing issues are basic needs such as water, electricity, food security and education of their children.
In 2013 with the help of our new partners, Women in the World and TripAdvisor, Sughar modified its approach by creating Sughar HUBs instead of Sughar Centers. These HUBs are beautifully constructed buildings in the middle of a village which are used as a community space for villagers and other organizations. From the time of their creation these HUBs have been used by organizations to train women and men on alternative livelihoods, climate change, and have been used for a variety of activities, like street theater. 2013 was also the year, Sughar planned to reach out to 1 million women in the next 10 years.
2014 - Sughar Foundation
This is when it dawned on us that the change-making process, especially when related to behavioral change, is extremely slow. Being a small organization we are unable to reach 1 million women in the time we planned. We also didn't want to change our goal as thousands of women across Pakistan are in need of the training and access to opportunities, so we decided to share our models with organizations across Pakistan.
In 2014, we started the process of registering the Sughar Foundation in the United States. Aiming to become a fund that focuses on partnering with up-and-coming organizations in Pakistan, the Foundation not only takes the idea of Sughar across the country, but also becomes a strong voice for influencing our government in taking crucial steps for the development of women in tribal and rural areas of Pakistan.
With an amazing board of directors, board of advisors, mentors, and friends from all around the world, Sughar Foundation takes off this year with new hope, new energy and new dreams!
In fact, currently we are on the hunt for an amazing Executive Director as I take my position as the Chief Visionary Officer in the Foundation. Please help us find a director, and thank you once again for all of your support and ever lasting love.
With Gratitude and Blessings,
Founder/Chief Visionary Officer