The UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, Ms. Noriko Yoshida on Thursday inaugurated a skills development project aimed at improving the skills and income-generating capacity of local and Afghan refugee women in Quetta. UNHCR Pakistan had signed its first-ever agreement with NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), a private sector partner based in the United Arab Emirates, to conduct a project to support and empower marginalized Afghan refugee and local women through skill development and enhancement in Balochistan. The project – being implemented by UNHCR’s partner Taraqee Foundation – will benefit 100 Afghan refugee and Pakistani women. These women will not only be trained but also be given monthly stipends to support their family while they are working. NAMA’s affiliate, IRTHI Contemporary Crafts Council, and UNHCR will be working in partnership to provide artisanal training. The project will be implemented in two skill centres including at Ghoasabad and Hazara Town. Some 100 skilled and semi-skilled women will receive the advanced trainings in the carpet weaving trade. Of the total 70 per cent are Afghan refugees while 30 per cent are Pakistani women. The UNHCR Representative, Ms. Noriko Yoshida visited the skill training centre at Ghoasabad in Quetta and formally inaugurated the project where the female artisans will be trained and guided to produce Emirati-inspired designs. Other partner staff were also present on the occasion. Ms. Yoshida interacted with refugee and Pakistani women and exchanged views on how this project will make a difference in their lives. The Representative assured that UNHCR will continue to implement such projects that empower women. She commended the NAMA’s contribution and its role in empowering women socially and economically through such projects. “The outcomes and impact of such initiatives are always beneficial. The project will enable these women to stand on their own two feet as well as support their families in a dignified manner,” she said adding the initiative will also enhance their future economic prospects upon return to Afghanistan. Ms. Noriko further said that one of the main objectives of UNHCR’s livelihood strategy is to make women empowered and self-reliant. She reiterated UNHCR’s commitment to continue supporting and implementing projects that are beneficial for women.