Purchase with purpose this Christmas season

7 October in Insights by joanna  

UCB was pleased to e-meet a young social entrepreneur who makes candles for social impact. Nimra is based in Pakistan and empowers local farmers and women who work with soy wax. To order candles with impact, visit The Duende Shop

This is what Nimra had to say about her work:

I am Nimra Babar, a social entrepreneur working on developing local farmers and empowering women. I am the owner of The Duende Shop, which specializes in making sustainable scented candles made from high-quality soy wax and eco-friendly wicks. Each piece is handcrafted by myself, with all proceeds going towards helping my community. I’m passionate about sustainability and making everyday products that improve people’s lives. It’s my mission to use eco-friendly ingredients, reduce their carbon footprint and encourage people to celebrate the power of creating happiness in each moment of their day.

Pakistan is a developing country, but farmers still use traditional methods to cultivate crops. They are using old techniques that increase cost, not efficiency and yield. I am creating a platform to empower women and local farmers who are not getting opportunities in the market. This platform will provide job opportunities for them by conducting training sessions about raising high yields and proper farming techniques to provide them with training sessions and encourage them to thrive and grow. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal opportunities in Pakistan; some girls have to marry at a very young age or if they do choose a career, they don’t get the proper training or are not encouraged to develop their minds through education.

The female labour force participation (FLFP) in Pakistan is estimated at 22 per cent, while only one-quarter of the women are working or looking for jobs compared with 85 per cent of men in Pakistan. This shows either lack of job opportunities for female workers or a lack of a favourable working environment. Despite constitutional protection, women are being exploited and discriminated against in all spheres of life. There is a tangible gap between policies, their execution, implementation and practice. We confidently say that a major factor in this gap is the enactment of laws and policies to tackle the problems of discrimination, lynching and violence against women at any level. Because of weak institutional setup, females avoid mobility, access to education, access to health facilities, and lower decision-making power and thus face a high rate of domestic violence. Several barriers prevent women from getting equal opportunities in work and holding positions of responsibility. Due to cultural mindsets and stereotypes, women face occupational segregation and multiple barriers—such as lack of access to land, capital, financial resources and technology, and gender-based violence. These obstacles make it harder for women to get on an equal footing with men in the world of work. Gender-based discrimination—where women face unequal treatment and pay compared to men—is one of the major impediments facing women worldwide. While countries are progressing towards ending all types of violence against women, discriminatory practices in the workplace can continue to sap women’s opportunities and equality in society. Girls and women don’t have a properly structured platform where they can see their potential and earn to contribute as working women.

The agricultural sector is heavily contributing towards the economy of Pakistan. Water deficiency and drought conditions, long duration load shedding issues, poor extension services, absence of land reforms, absence of distribution of certified varieties, the high price of fertilizers, deliberate use of adulterated, non-recommended and expired insecticides, non-utilization of cultivable wasteland, conventional farming practices and many other factors are responsible for demotion of the agricultural sector in Pakistan. In addition to this high price of staple products and medicines, this sector is one of the most important driving sources in the economy. Water scarcity, high prices of fertilizers, poor extension services and extensive use of pesticides have pushed agriculture to the verge of collapse in Pakistan. The main reason behind this collapse is that the current distribution system is stagnant, and farmers have no other option but to buy subsidized fertilizer from private companies at a higher price or starve their income by growing unproductive crops and cultivating wastelands. Other than these issues, it has become difficult for farmers to access markets due to the non-availability of proper transportation facilities. The floods affected Pakistan in 2022. It led to human losses, property damage and economic losses. The economic damages are expected to be high due to crop production and livestock losses (direct) and indirect costs of water logging and rehabilitation related to flooding. A significant portion of the direct costs is associated with agriculture tools & machinery, and infrastructure, with subsequent delays in sowing, drainage and, consequently, crop loss during this period. Diversifying into non-agricultural sectors increases wealth and reduces poverty over time. The share of oilseeds in total production is very low in Pakistan due to several factors. These include a limited research base, fragmented technology transfer, poor extension services and a lack of support prices.

Further, crop marketing and procurement issues are also responsible for this situation. Poverty is another major constraint contributing to Pakistan’s low production of oilseeds. Recent studies have challenged the notion that the production of oilseeds in Pakistan has stagnated and is even declining, which calls for an urgent need to address issues in the value chain and revive rural livelihoods. However, such intervention situates itself within the current policy framework, including a unified agricultural policy, which has major effects on agriculture extension, research capacity building and national food security. Most Pakistanis depend on their agricultural lands for their livelihoods, making it a key income source. However, because of conditions like limited research, there is low production of oilseeds in Pakistan, which negatively impacts their standard of living.