Story of Khalida, a women empowerment principle in practice
The Sustainable Development Goal number 5 calls for gender equality and empowering women and girls. Together with our parent company NRS International, we stand by that commitment through all of our business operations.
In 2015, NRS International’s Managing Director signed the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) under the UN Global Compact. The WEPs define seven principles which together form a voluntary framework promoting the advancement of women in the workplace, marketplace and community. We recognise that the inclusion of women in our workforce drives development and is necessary for success, and in 2017 our sister company TANA Netting, manufacturer of WHOPES-recommended treated mosquito nets, launched a safe female-friendly unit at our Pakistan-based factory H. Sheikh Noor-ud-Din & Sons (HSNDS). This unit is completely staffed and managed by women, and currently employs 118 skilled women.
Khalida is one of the HSNDS employees working at the female-only stitching unit. Acting as the deputy supervisor in the stitching department, Khalida is responsible for stitching TANA Netting’s DawaPlus® 2.0 long-lasting insecticidal nets, which protect people from malaria, and for providing training to new staff.
Let’s listen to her story:
My name is Khalida. I rent a house in the suburbs of Lahore with my family. I work to support my children and to give them a better life. I have four daughters and two sons and, sadly, my husband passed away a year ago. Two of my children work with me at HSNDS and my daughter works alongside me in the female unit. We have been working here collectively for three years.
My daily schedule
I wake up in the early hours of the morning and after offering a prayer, I prepare breakfast for my children who attend school nearby. I travel by public transport for about an hour and I reach the office by 8:00 am to start my working day.
My work experience
I joined HSNDS three years ago; however, I started my professional career nine years ago in a cardigan and pullover manufacturing facility. I am the main breadwinner of our family. With my monthly income I can easily manage my expenses, including the education of my younger children.
Facilities at HSNDS Female Unit
I work in a comfortable and safe space completely managed and staffed by women. We have all the resources that we need to get the job done; such as, separate washrooms, chillers in the summer season, comfortable seating, a beautiful stitching hall, professional development training, and health and safety guidelines. I also appreciate the positive attitude and management style of our senior management.
Difficulties I faced
When I first sought outside employment, I was not very confident and did not feel that I could support my family. Initially, my family and friends discouraged me from pursuing a career, but I had no other choice than to continue working. I am grateful for the separate female unit and the confidence that I gained through my employment with HSNDS. I am becoming more assertive and professional every single day.
What I am learning
At HSNDS, it’s all about learning new techniques and skills to become more efficient. Luckily, we are under the supervision of a highly skilled team of professionals that continue to help us in developing our abilities. We are also being trained by our health and safety department to prevent and respond to emergencies.
My big dream
I have a dream to build my own house for my family. I want to see my children grow to be successful adults. I also hope to prepare my girls for marriage, which is a huge part of our culture. However, once they are married, I want to see them happy and independent. I never want my children to face the same struggles that I did.
I have always risen above any challenges set in front of me, be it a financial crisis or biased social behaviour. I always have faith and perseverance. I want my children to work hard and to have faith, too. I believe there are no shortcuts in life and I am very grateful for everything I have received in my life.
We must face each challenge wisely. We must not rely on anyone else. It’s only you who can conquer your battle. We, being powerful women, must know our rights and release the power we have within us. Never lose hope, stay focused and keep moving.