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Sara Pilot steps forward to showcase Jamia's creative world

Tuesday March 08, 2011 08:04:51 PM, IANS

New Delhi: With their deft fingers, they turn out a variety of outfits and accessories but the women of Jamia Nagar here lack marketting and job-hunting skills. To bridge this gap, Sara Pilot and Lora Prabhu are helming Jamia Bazar, a two-day event that is also a "conscious effort to break out of gender stereotype activities."

The March 13-14 event is an endeavour by CEQUIN (Center for Equity and Inclusion), an NGO led by Pilot and Prabhu. Young girls and middle-aged women will showcase a variety of embroidered kurtis, shalwars and beaded bags, among others, at the event.

"The women of this area are very spirited and talented. They are particularly good at fine embroidery, but they don't have much bargaining power and work comes sporadically. Jamia Bazaar will help them overcome such problems," Sara Pilot, the wife of Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot, told IANS at an event here.

How does the NGO work?

"The centre helps in developing market linkages and placements. Our guiding approach is to be innovative, catalytic and sustainable. The long term vision for this project is to make a conscious effort to break out of gender stereotype activities," Sara Pilot said.

At Jamia Bazaar, which will be held at the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), Lodhi Road, one will get a chance to sample Jamia's crafts, cuisine and culture.

CEQUIN, in partnership with Jamia Millia Islamia University, has been running a Samajik Suvidha Kendra/Gender Resource Centre (SSK/GRC) in Jamia Nagar, under the aegis of the Delhi government's Mission Convergence since March 2009. The project aims to reduce poverty by promoting women's access to their economic, social and cultural rights and making them agents of change.

"Setting up CEQUIN was not easy. People believed that my family background would make things easy for me, but trust me, it was a completely different story altogether. The in-depth desire to do something for a cause which we can actually relate to was a kind of motivation," said Sara Pilot, who comes from an influential political family.

Her father, Farooq Abdullah, is a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and is now the minister for new and renewable energy at the centre. Her brother Omar Abdullah is the current chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

Talking about the problems she faced, Sara Pilot said: "We had to go through the whole process of getting permissions and building resources. What worked in our favour is that Lora and I are young, we are full of ideas and bitten by a desire for hands-on involvement in the process of change."

For both of them, CEQUIN was all about creating awareness amongst women, helping them better their lives and become independent.

Interestingly, CEQUIN's goodwill ambassador is cricketer Virendra Sehwag.

Asked about this, Sara Pilot explained: "We never wanted to put restrictions on women by asking them to carry pepper spray (for their safety). And since we are addressing men and telling them that it's their responsibility to ensure that women are treated well in society, who can be a better person to do that than a man himself?"






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