New Attock WordPress Meetup Empowers Pakistani Women Freelancers and Business Owners – WordPress Tavern
WordCamp Lahore will restart from November 30th to December 1st at the National University of Computers and Emerging Sciences. The first edition of the event was scheduled for 2016 but was derailed due to local disagreements and ultimately canceled. For the past three years, organizers have worked to strengthen their local meetup groups and follow suggestions from the WordPress Foundation before reapplying.
WordCamp Lahore’s lead organizer, Muhammad Kashif, said his team was expecting more than 350 participants, most of whom were from the local community. The Lahore WordPress Meetup group is thriving and has grown to 4,383 members who meet regularly in various groups in the area.
“We still have participants from other cities, and in conclusion, I encourage them to start local chapters and offer any help they need,” said Kashif. He works as a master trainer for a government training program called eRozgaar, which trains unemployed youth in more than 25 centers in Punjab. The program was launched by the Punjab government in March 2017 and WordPress is an important part of the eRozgaar curriculum.
“I manage the WordPress curriculum and in a recent update I started building a community that includes meetups and WordCamp events,” said Kashif. He reports that eRozgaar apprentices made more than $ 1 million in total after completing the 3.5 month program.
“The program is making a big impact, especially for women who are unable to take up work,” said Kashif. “You make good money doing freelance work and WordPress plays a big part in that.”
Kashif attributes some of Pakistan’s current economic challenges to a rapidly growing population and poor planning by previous governments. Job opportunities have not grown as fast as the population, which was one of the reasons the government launched the eRozgaar training program.
As a result of WordPress in the curriculum used in so many areas of Punjab, new meetups are popping up in other cities. Salma Noreen, one of the trainers on the program that Kashif worked with, started a meeting in Attock and is the first female WordPress meeting organizer in Pakistan. She plans to apply for WordCamp Attock in 2020.
Salma Noreen, first female WordPress meetup organizer in Pakistan
“Every year more than 1000 people graduate in this city after 16 years of training. But we don’t have many jobs in this small town, so a small number of people supported by good financial families can move to other big cities like Lahore and Karachi for jobs and study opportunities. The future of the remaining people is always a question mark.
“As a woman, I was more concerned about women because we have a cultural barrier where most women are not allowed to move or leave home for a regular 9-5 job. The introduction to WordPress and the subsequent guidance on finding customers online has helped many make a decent living from home. “
For the past 10 years, Noreen has mainly been a freelancer and has completed more than 3,500 web development projects. She is mentoring new WordPress users in her city to become successful freelancers and online store owners using resources like Udemy courses, YouTube, public blogs, and the WordPress Codex.
“I’m still fighting, but I’m confident that one day everyone will make enough from home,” she said.
The Attock WordPress Meetup has had an average of 60 to 70 participants in the last few months, with members sharing their knowledge, experiences and best practices. For many participants, the meetup group was the first introduction to the software. Noreen describes the local community as “crazy about WordPress” and eager to have their own WordCamp in 2020.
Attock WordPress Meetup
One meetup member, Uroosa Samman, has a degree in environmental science but is now using WordPress after attending the monthly meetups.
“I didn’t have a WordPress or coding background during my apprenticeship,” said Samman. “It was difficult for me to learn technical things. The meetups were very helpful and motivating for me, so I decided to work in the technical area. Since the events were organized by an organizer, it was pleasant for us to take part. I can offer my services as a freelancer and develop my own WordPress e-commerce shop. If I get stuck in a problem with WordPress, I immediately contact this community and they are always ready to help each other. “
Women who recently attended an Attock WordPress Meetup
Shahryar Amin, a recent college graduate, wasn’t sure about his future until he discovered WordPress through Noreen’s assistance and the Attock meeting:
Just a few months ago I was completely devastated financially. Pakistan is in a tumultuous time and its economy has never done so badly. Fresh graduates like me had their dreams completely shattered when after four months of rigorous exertion we could not find a source of livelihood. That was really a test time.
When I returned to my little town, I wasn’t very hopeful about the future. My hometown of Attock is a remote town with limited career advancement opportunities. But ironically, it turned out to be a wrong assumption. After almost four years, I moved back to my town and there have been some phenomenal changes that I couldn’t resist. The most
WordPress Meetups were impressive.
That was the first time I became familiar with the platform. I was curious and that brought me to the very first meeting organized by Ms. Salma Noreen. She is a remarkable soul and I can’t thank her anymore for standing up for an ignored city like ours. I learned my basics from these meetups and as my interest became my passion, I spent more and more hours learning WordPress over the internet. I didn’t have any programming skills, but luckily you don’t need one to set up a website on WordPress.
As I continued to delve into it, I discovered some very useful plugins like Elementor, Divi and Visual Composer and it was at that moment that I decided to become a designer with WordPress. I’m not going to say I’ve become an expert on WordPress, but I’m paying back the community by sharing my knowledge as a speaker at the very last meeting on July 30th. In addition, I have worked as a freelance designer on various online projects and platforms and WordPress know-how has really rewarded me financially.
Shahryar Amin was speaking at an Attock WordPress meeting recently
Sania Nisar, who lives in Attock, has a degree in software engineering and spent several days building a simple website before discovering WordPress. She has never received formal training in paid courses, but now works as a WordPress professional using the knowledge she gained from attending WordPress meetups and online resources.
“WordPress Attock plays an important role in empowering women near me,” said Nisar. “It is difficult for the women of Attock to travel to big cities like Islamabad to gain knowledge. However, WordPress Attock has efficiently solved this problem by providing an engaging learning platform for the women of this city. Today I am a successful freelancer and WordPress professional. “
Noreen said her team hope to bring 15 to 20 people from Attock to WordCamp Lahore. The trip is expensive and takes about seven hours so not many will make it, but there will be other camps in the area closer to Attock residents.
Last year there was a WordCamp in Islamabad, and in August 2019 the second WordCamp was held in Karachi. WordCamp Lahore will be Pakistan’s fourth WordCamp in the country’s second largest city. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and connect with WordPress professionals and enthusiasts from all over Pakistan. Applications for speakers are open, and meetings are held in Urdu and English. Regular entry is Rs 1,700.00 and tickets are on sale now.