Pakistan: Zakia Arshad

Zakia's Arshad's work with the innovative smokeless chullahs has helped scores of low-income families in Pakistan lead healthier lives.

— Zakia Arshad

Zakia Arshad (born 1953) has worked for more than 25 years with Pakistan's marginalized, especially poor women and children. Of special significance has been her work as a master-trainer and evaluator of smokeless chullah (environmentally friendly cooking stove) projects with an array of organizations. She helped the Family Planning Association of Pakistan win the United Nations Environment Program's Global 500 Award for its work with smokeless chullahs.

Zakia Arshad began working for women and children's empowerment in the late 1970s, when society's attitude toward grassroots women was resistant. Considered unfit for mainstream development, and denied opportunities for education and health, they were considered male property. Zakia has been working with marginalized women and children for more than half a century. She worked for 17 years with the Family Planning Association of Pakistan (Frap), and since the mid-1990s has been involved with the South Asia Partnership (SAP). She has been master-trainer with the Frap, SOS Villages Pakistan, the World Wide Fund for Nature (Pakistan), and other small organizations. Zakia encouraged the Frap to start smokeless chullah projects in Pakistan, and has been involved in training, through monitoring to evaluation. She organized 25 training events, in which 500 women in the four provinces participated, on the theme "health and safety measures for household women-benefits of the smokeless chullah". Zakia has also carried out investigations for project design and implementation strategies on area development, NGOs, gender and development, and institutional-strengthening programs, as part of her work with the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan's (SAP-PK) year-long training Resource Development Program. As an advocacy coordinator with SAP-PK, Zakia's experience of working with different government departments has helped, including her involvement with the Ministry of Women's Development and Social Welfare, with whom she shared the findings of studies conducted by SAP-PK on gender discrimination against girls in six poverty-stricken districts of the Punjab. Zakia's spadework led to the ministry setting up a nationwide nutritional support program for girls. SAP-PK implemented the program, in which Zakia worked for three years, in six districts.

South Asia Partnership (SAP)