KARACHI: At a small shop in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, two young girls are bent over a workstation, repairing wires and battery chargers.
Despite all odds, Naseeb Jamal, an electrician for 20 years, has taught six of his eight daughters his craft to help them become self-reliant in the future.
“When I had four daughters, it came to my mind: Why shouldn’t I give them an education?” Jamal, who moved to Karachi from the Tor Ghar area in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told Arab News.
“I couldn’t give them that chance due to a shortage of financial resources, but I thought at least I could teach them skills.”
While two of Jamal’s younger daughters are still learning, four are already adept electricians and their father’s pride.
“My daughters are making a name for themselves in society and for women in Pakistan,” he said.
Jamal lives with his family near the spot where gunmen killed Abdul Waheed Khan, a social worker who ran a coeducational school in Qasba Colony, in 2013. Khan dreamed of bringing modern education to the slums of Karachi, whose many inhabitants, like Jamal, migrated there from northern Pakistan to escape militant violence and look for better job opportunities.
Those who challenge social taboos face opposition and receive little support, Jamal said. “Waheed Khan sacrificed his life for the sake of educating our children.”
Conservative neighbors and family members have opposed his attempts to empower his daughters.
“When you give your child a skill or education, some people in the family will oppose it. But you don’t need to give heed to them,” he said.
As a father, Jamal wants to at least give his daughters the chance to stand on their own feet, he said.
Two of them are already married and happy, he said, which he attributes in part to their empowering upbringing. “I will oversee the future of my children. I will give them skills and make them useful for the country and for themselves. It will give them confidence and make them stronger.”
The girls, who attended regular school before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic shut down campuses across Pakistan, also help Jamal run his business.
“I do solar lamp installations, and when I am out of home or out of city, I don’t have to worry about the shop,” he said. “After coming back from school, they open the shop and even if I am away for three days, they take care of it, as well as the home.”
One of Jamal’s younger daughters, 10-year-old Javeriah, said she found the work “a little difficult” at first but has since gotten the hang of it.
“I learned it from my father,” she said with a smile as she handed a repaired battery charger to a customer. “I fix lights, I fix speakers, and I can fix battery chargers.”
Jamal believes that girls should not be kept confined to their homes: “If you want girls to trust and believe in themselves, you have to bring them out of the home. And you have to trust them.”