At a ceremony hosted at Pakistani designer Huma Adnan’s residence, refugee women were celebrated for their hard work and passion to do more for themselves. Having lived in Pakistan since the past four decades, Afghan refugee women, with the help of United Nation Higher Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], and in collaboration with NGO ‘AHAN’ and Huma are now able to monetize their talent of handcrafting jewellery in an exclusive collection ‘Craft Stories’. Last night, the unique and creative collection was showcased for an audience the first time.
According to Article 14 (i) of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” As per this clause, refugees from any part of the world have the right to seek protection in other countries. The Naturalization Act 1926 states that any person living within the territory of Pakistan for the period of twelve months exhibits a good character and knows Urdu or a dialect spoken in the country, is entitled to citizenship.
Despite these existing laws, 2.5 million refugees residing in Pakistan have not been naturalized or allowed to lead a normal life. Last night’s event took a step towards change that. The first public exhibit of the refugee-crafted jewellery sent out the message of inclusivity thanks to empathetic designers like Huma.
As part of their collaboration, refugee women were trained for months to empower and help them become independent and earn a livelihood for themselves which is otherwise impossible. The training center — which opened in November at Al-Asif Square — provided the trainees with required equipment and materials.
The showcase was attended by many celebrities and big wigs of the fashion and entertainment industry. Hira Mani, Sarah Khan and Noor Khan were the designer’s showstoppers for the night.
Such initiatives deserve to be lauded for allowing marginalised communities to feel empowered and provide livelihood opportunities for them. The collection — which draws inspiration from the Manora Island — aims to also promote the tourism industry in Pakistan. Each piece created is unique and holds testimony to the Afghan refugees’ struggle for survival in Pakistan since 1979.
The new collection of the Craft Stories will release on International Women’s Day, March 08.