Making Space Taking Space
A Mental Health Project in Chitral
‘Mahraka’, which means ‘gathering of community’, will create a space that connects three core elements of the lived experiences of women in Chitral : Social Isolation and Mental Health; Employment and Entrepreneurship; and Culture and Traditional Craft.
Through the Mahraka Center, we will actively and continuously take steps to incorporate the most vulnerable and marginalised women within Chitral, specifically those suffering from environmental anxiety and depression, low income backgrounds, and ethnic minorities.
Support Women's Mental Wellness, Employment and Empowerment in Chitral, Northern Pakistan
MENTAL HEALTH AND SOCIAL ISOLATION
As the most critical objective and central purpose of the Mahraka Centre, addressing the pressing need for community support for mental health for women and girls in Chitral is the foundation of this project.
Suicide rates among young women in Chitral have dramatically increased in recent years.
Women in Chitral have access to social media and the wider world but are in a society where the frustrations of limited access to work and training provide a hotbed of mental health issues.
Recent report suggest that 68% of the suicides were from unmarried women.
There is limited access for women to take up professional training in creative arts and business development as the current education system is geared towards the sciences, medicine and engineering. This has led to many young girls failing their examinations and causing high levels of anxiety and depression.
The Centre aims to create a space that provides skills training, a creative outlet, as well as a space for women and girls to gather and find community support for the unique challenges they face.
EMPLOYMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
In 2012, only 5% on entrepreneurs in Pakistan were women.
With a general unemployment rate of 80% in Chitral, there is a pressing need to activate self-employment within the community, particularly for women. Artisans are in need of regular feedback and training so that the quality of their handiwork complies with industry standards. There also needs to be a support system in place for their health and personal well-being, which remains an unsolved issue.
Lack of business opportunities, financial investment, and quality higher education are some of the main reasons why many households still live in poverty. Employment is not only an important means for people to make a living, but also an essential way for them to participate in society for personal fulfilment and dignity.
Mahraka Centre aims to responds directly to these needs expressed to us by local women, creating a cooperative that can provide such resources, building the capacity of women’s workshops and individual artisans to self-employ, generate and maintain personal enterprises and income.
CULTURE AND TRADITIONAL CRAFT
Many heritage crafts in Pakistan are in danger of being lost as remote communities fail to secure economic development and the young in the communities move into towns and cities, losing continuity of mother-daughter transmission of many valuable skills.
Many young girls today in Chitral are interested in learning design and improving their embroidery skills. Unfortunately, however, due to changing social and familial pressures on girls to pursue certain types of education and careers, this is not encouraged by the wider community.
The Mahraka Centre will provide a space for women and girls to pursue entrepreneurship in the creative arts, while at the same time strengthening beautiful local tradition and heritage.