Shanti Lal, 39, is from Sindh province in Pakistan and lives with her husband and two sons. Unlike many other women in Pakistan, Shanti was fortunate to have parents who supported all of their seven children, including their daughters, to pursue an education.
“Being a girl, I gained a higher education despite the local taboos of not sending girls to school,” she says. “Among my friends, I was one of the lucky few who achieved this. People were not happy that I was sent for higher studies to another city, they did not appreciate that I got a job and was working with men. I was fortunate that my parents encouraged me at every step of my career.”
Shanti has worked in community development for 17 years and is currently the Program Coordinator for the Parkari Community Development Program, which promotes girls’ education and raises awareness of civil and human rights. The organization serves one of the most marginalized communities in Sindh, where women make up less than 16% of the labour force, compared to over 21% in the rest of Pakistan.
Shanti identifies skills and knowledge within communities, helping them to use their skills more effectively. The Parkari Community Development Program represents community members’ needs with government or supports them through training to understand their basic rights.