As the coronavirus pandemic hit Pakistan earlier this year, and along with it the rest of the world, the social welfare departments across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sprang into action by employing poor women at their vocational centres to make personal protective equipment (PPE) — an item in high demand and short supply across the globe.
The PPE, including full-body safety suits and masks, being produced by the social welfare departments (SWD) across the province is not only affordable but also a source of livelihood for the women making it, many of whom have lost their daily jobs and are now the sole earners of their family. Moreover, the SWDs are also playing their part in supplying this essential item to frontline healthcare workers, police officials and sanitation workers.
According to Syeda Nudrat, a gender specialist in SWD Peshawar, every woman worker employed in the project is paid between Rs5,000-6,000. She added that the PPE suits they’re manufacturing cost Rs500, as compared to Rs1,300 for one PPE suit in the market.
Since the project was launched around two months ago, a total of 3,685 PPE suits have been distributed among healthcare workers and other essential personnel fighting the coronavirus pandemic. In Peshawar, a total of 2,118 suits have been doled out to the district government as well as 11 private hospitals, along with the planning and development department. A total of 320 PPE suits were given out in Hangu, 505 in Bannu, 92 in Lakki Marwat and 50 each in Malakand, Swat, Abbottabad and Karak.
Similarly, the SWDs have distributed over 61,000 facemasks manufactured by local women at their vocational centres among citizens of the province, according to their officials.
A total of 10,000 masks have been distributed among citizens in Peshawar, 13,380 in Charsadda to both citizens and government departments, 5,640 in Mardan to government and citizens, 2,000 to the public in Swabi, 3,000 in Swat, 1,300 in Malakand, 500 in Chitral, 400 and 500 in Upper and Lower Dir, respectively, 1,050 in Buner, 700 in Abbottabad, 500 in Mansehra, 300 in Battagram, 8,700 in Kohat, 1,150 in Karak, 4,750 in Hangu, 4,000 in Bannu, 2,500 in Lakki Marwat, and 1,560 in DI Khan.