In Karachi, Pakistan, four women sat on the floor in a room lit by one light bulb. A woman named Kanwel had knocked on their doors and asked if they wanted to learn to read, write, and sew—skills not readily available to women in Pakistan. In addition to these traditional gender injustices, females born into Christian homes also faced discrimination, oppression, and often persecution.
Despite the discouragement Kanwel and her husband Mushtaq experienced after a failed church planting attempt in 2005, Kanwel felt strongly that God had given her a vision for her community and culture. She was not one to give up. Kanwel shared with Mushtaq what was on her heart: “What if we begin by reaching out to the women and offering help for their basic needs? Then the women can reach other women, children, and families.”
So, Kanwel and her husband began again, knocking on one door at a time with an offer to help educate women and build community.
This ministry, now known as Shama Women, has gone from training 4 women to over 1,500. Shama Women offers classes in sewing, cosmetology, as well as computer and adult literacy. It also provides a thriving community of friendship and connection for women, as they discover their identity and purpose in Jesus.
During the pandemic, Shama Women pivoted back to their roots, meeting in small community workshops to sew masks, draw henna, and teach cosmetology. Kanwel’s vision has now extended to include the Association of Related Churches Pakistan (ARC PAK). Over 350 pastors are being trained to recognize that God created both male and female in his image. Kanwel’s influence is changing the culture of Pakistani life-giving churches where women are welcome to find their purpose and grow their faith together.