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From homemakers to breadwinners

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By Buraq Shabbir
Tue, 11, 18

‘Learning Time’, an initiative that operates in around 18 countries across Asia and Africa....

Team of ‘Learning Time’ poses in front of their stall at Expo Centre, Karachi.

‘Learning Time’, an initiative that operates in around 18 countries across Asia and Africa, welcomes women to work, learn and grow with them on various levels. The country manager for ‘Learning Time Pakistan’ is educationist Salima Sachwani. You! takes a closer look at the initiative and how it is helping these women. Read on...

Awoman stepping out of her home for work purpose isn’t an alien concept anymore, particularly in this day and age. However, it is not just about earning a living and providing financial support to the family, but it also helps these women have a better understanding of self. Women become stronger, more confident and self-aware when they have an identity, irrespective of their relationships. For them, just the thought of it is extremely liberating. 

Salima Sachwani

In order to have a closer look of how such women are and what they aspire to achieve, You! speaks to a group of smart, educated and professional women, who have been working with ‘Learning Time’. It is one of the fastest-growing developers and marketers of early learning products for today’s kids. The idea is to find out how is the platform helping them grow professionally as well as personally, what challenges they face being a working woman and if there are any positive changes in their lives ever since they decided to work.

‘Learning Time’, that presently operates in around 18 countries across Asia and Africa, welcomes women to work with them - both part-time and full-time, learn with them and grow on various levels. This initiative provides these women an opportunity to become competent, challenge themselves and achieve their goals.

While the company is co-owned by Mush Panjwani and Jahangir Sachwani, the country manager for ‘Learning Time Pakistan’ is educationist Salima Sachwani, who brings with her vast knowledge and experience in the field and is associated with the initiative for over three years now. She is the woman who trains all the women of different age groups, who join their team and then visit parents and/or families for a demonstration of the products they wish to sell. “Working women from different walks of life join us as part-time employees to widen their source of earning and often turn to full-time workers,” informs Salima Sachwani. “Leading a group of women in Karachi and a smaller one in Lahore, I conduct workshops and trainings on regular basis. These women need constant motivation and support and I try to guide them through their way and encourage them to achieve more.”

Given that it’s an all-women working team, recruitment and sustaining employees is a challenge for Salima as every woman isn’t able to continue for a long time due to their responsibilities at home. However, whoever chooses to work with them takes a lot back home, not just financially.

“When I joined ‘Learning Time’, I had two purposes in mind other than earning money out of it: first, to make women realise that they have an identity as an individual and secondly, I wanted to help them deal with their problems on their own,” she adds.

You! also talks to a bunch of women working with ‘Learning Time’ to find out in what ways the platform is uplifting these women.

Dr Nazia Bhurgri, Learning Consultant at the initiative, is married with two kids and works part-time in the morning shift while she goes to the hospital in the evening. Associated with the forum for over two years now, Dr Nazia feels that if she wasn’t a doctor, she would have been a full-time sales person because her leadership skills have also been enhanced here.

“It often gets depressing at the hospital amidst patients and illnesses so this job provides me an exciting opportunity. I can’t keep myself away from this place because they have introduced a kind of positivity in us that not only keeps us happy but also has a good influence on our surroundings. The commission and incentives including weekly lunches and dinners also keep us mentally relaxed and happy.”

A full-time housewife initially, Sakina Saleem Hussain is a mother of two kids who recently set up her own boutique that she runs and is working with ‘Learning Time’ simultaneously.” I have been working with them since three months and my experience has been very good; everyone is very cooperative and there is so much to learn. I have become more confident and bold and can visit places on my own. In the beginning, it was difficult to step out of the house and manage work alongside house responsibilities but it’s getting better with time,” she enthuses.

Another housewife-turned-working woman Anum Zehra has been associated with the company for some time now. She has worked before as well but the jobs weren’t flexible enough to let her look after house chores at the same time so she left. “This job is easily manageable with kids and also allows me to support my family financially. There is no work pressure and the experience has been great. Though there are a few challenges because people think it’s a door-to-door job, but we have learnt to deal with that. We take prior appointments from parents before visiting them and they receive us with respect,” explains Anum.

There is one pre-medical student, named Hina Naz, who is working with the team for three months, and feels that this job is easily manageable alongside studies. “It is a great learning experience and we are also taught how to face the hindrances while at work. It was difficult to convince my family at first that it is a safe working environment for their daughter but later on, they were satisfied after seeing my ease and comfort as well as my growth,” she explains.

Mufra Butt, who has done her Masters in Physics, has a longer affiliation with not just ‘Learning Time’, but jobs in general. She has been working for a few years but currently is a full-time learning consultant here and has quit all other jobs for this one. “We have groomed personally as well as professionally. We get a good amount of money if we work well. Being a female, there are a few things that one needs to learn to tackle and I have become good with it with the support of my colleagues and management here,” endorses Mufra.

It’s heartening to see a platform providing an earning opportunity to so many women out there who not only learn but grow together. There isn’t a more beautiful sight than a woman fixing another woman’s crown and this is exactly these women do for each other when they come together for work purposes. These and numerous other females have been supporting one and another on various forums and this is the key to success: women empowering other women.