Saro Imran is a transgender rights activist and accountapreneur who believes that economic independence is the key to ending violence against transgender people in Pakistan. She always considered her gender as a vital part of her identity and struggled with the notion of hiding it to gain societal acceptance. This struggle became a thing of the past when she first gained economic independence. That step allowed her to confidently embrace her identity as a transgender person. The confusion she felt since her childhood began to abate and instead of fighting internally against her gender identity, she began to focus outwards on her community. 

As a child,  she faced intense bullying at school and from the community at large, which made her feel lost and alone. Her biological family did not disown her – which is a norm usually practiced in Pakistan communities – but still struggled to fully embrace her. The best support her family was able to provide was empowering her through education. This led her to value knowledge, creativity, personal freedom and growth.  When asked about how she gained this strength to challenge so many social norms, she shares that she has faced so much bullying in her life that social biases don’t bother her any longer.  Instead, Saro’s strength was forged by the bullies who refused to accept her. 

Saro completed a Master’s degree in finance and accounts and an MPhil in business management. Her thesis was on entrepreneurship. As an emerging leader of the transgender community, she has a wide range of experience. She has been part of  various international organizations and youth networks in which she has represented Pakistan’s transgender community. She also participated in the Women Deliver 2019 Conference inVancouver, Canada, the ICPD Youth Model (UNFPA) inEgypt in October 2019, the ICPD Nairobi Summit in Kenya inNovember 2019, and the Global Peace Summit in Turkey in 2020. Additionally, she has won the Social Enterprise Prize Challenge for 2020 and the Youth Innovation Challenge COVID-19 Edition by UNDP Pakistan. She was also part of AL Pakistan’s Accountability Incubator cohort for 2020.

She says she found her most solid foundation of support within the  Pakistani transgender community. She considers them  family who were open to and accept diversity of all kinds. “Hierarchy was not based on social status but on a family system designed to support its members,’ she says. In her work of building relationships,  she observed that most transgender persons were engaged in sex work and begging. Many of them also faced violence when practicing these professions. She also acknowledged how transgender persons being marginalized for many decades have now accepted this violence as the norm. Saro saw how many transgender persons were disadvantaged by a lack of formal education. She therefore  identified this cycle of violence due to economic dependence on abusers.

On the flip side, Saro was easily able to see that  the trans community in Pakistan was highly creative and resourceful. To therefore support her community she has developed an incubation program called the “Pink Skills and Training Center” to build up a circle of innovative service around different themes and sectors to help achieve an economic turnaround  for transgenderpPeople in the country. This includes a transgender-focused entrepreneurship training curriculum, focused on imparting basic concepts of entrepreneurship so it meets its audience where they are rather than complicationg  itself with heavy jargon. Her team at the centre has also started a mapping exercise of the transgender community. Using their module, they have conducted training with transgender persons and provided micro grants to entrepreneurs. The target of the Pink Skills and Training Center for 2021, is to empower 100 transgender persons interested in starting their own ventures. She is also developing a catalog of transgender entrepreneurs already running their businesses in Pakistan to inspire others through their case studies. 

While developing her own leadership skills and advocating for  marginalized communities in Pakistan, Saro is paving the way for other transgender people to become economically independent and break the cycle of violence. 

 

To learn more about her work visit Facebook page of Pink Skills and Training Center

https://web.facebook.com/pstcpak

To connect with Saro Imran visit her social media Handles

https://web.facebook.com/sarim.imran/

To further her work in “Pink Skills and Training Center” donate on her Global Giving page