Community Voices 3: Pakistan

The community empowerment drawings from Pakistan are by women and men clients and staff participating in gender workshops for micro-finance programmes 2004 – 2005.

Many of the drawings are in the form of Diamond Tools that I developed for identifying community criteria for assessing empowerment, ‘happy families’ and differences between women and men’s poverty. The Diamond shape was chosen because if you just ask ‘what does poverty mean here’ people just say ‘everyone is poor’ or ‘has no power’. In order to tease things out I started to ask ‘what do the richest people look like?’ ‘what do the poorest people look like’, the Diamond shape representing that one might think those are the fewest people, with most people in the middle. If it turns out most people are at the bottom, then that is a discussion point. For full discussion of the Diamond tool and its various uses see on my professional blog.

The other drawing is a very early ‘Road Journey’ showing progress over time from bottom left to top right.

  • there are a wide range of styles of figure drawing, even on the same diagrams and using the same media – markers, biro or pencil.
  • some of the drawings have very expressive faces. Sometimes this is intentional – frowning, tears, smile. Other times this is from ‘happy accident’ where expressions are because of lack of drawing experience. But still relevant for my own adaptations either because they are so expressive or they make people laugh.
  • the same drawings occur on different diagrams for different places: violence, dirty unkempt hair, many unruly children, men’s drug addiction, sickness, cars, mobile phones.
  • type of clothes are important markers eg between rich and poor. But significantly women are rarely drawn with veils either by men or women, even where they were in reality wearing a burqa.

Taraqee Foundation: Baluchistan

These drawings were from Taraqee Foundation in Baluchistan – a conservative rural area next to the Afghan border. This workshop was facilitated and documented by me with Afghan refugees as well as local Baluchi women and men. I only have one photograph above because the women did not want to be photographed.

In this exercise I had done a bit of an experiment – women and men’s groups were in separate rooms and I asked some groups to draw ‘most empowered and least empowered woman’ and others ‘women and men in a very happy family/unhappy family’.

Interestingly the men in the women’s empowerment group walked out and left, but the men in the ‘happy family’ group were very interested saying they wanted their daughters to learn computing and video and they wanted to be able to take their wife out like they saw in the movies.

There were two groups of women one of Afghan women who were all wearing burqa and another Baluchi women who were not. It was the Afghan veiled women who were most firm that women should have their own name on everything.

Note the women in the pictures by women and also men are not shown as wearing heavy veil or burqa. They do not see themselves in that way.

Kashf Foundation, Lahore

Kashf in Lahore – a more cosmopolitan urban area in workshops facilitated and documented by micro-finance staff initially trained by me. I was not present. The staff documentation was quite thorough, but I have a lot of questions I wish I had been able to ask.

The first Diamond in particular is very poignant.

  • top left is a picture of an empowered woman and husband holding a flower with big lips out for kissing. The other top drawings have money for medicine, the husband has a job and the woman as well as the man has a car to drive. Only 1 member was in that position.
  • at the bottom left by contrast is a woman lying dead in a cemetery with her children crying around her because she could not stand it any longer. The other symbols at the bottom are for violence, a child working in the market, injection needle for drugs, a bed for sickness and a woman carrying a heavy load to the market. 80-100 women in their near community were in that position. Many on the verge of suicide they said.

In the last Diamond at the top were 2 women who had gone in an aeroplane and had a mobile phone to communicate regularly with their daughters.

Further details can be found in the reports below.

Damen and PRSP, Lahore

These Poverty Diamonds were done by women as part of of a community visit for microfinance staff gender training.