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A Passion for Fashion - Nurhaeda and Her Dream

'I have a dream to be a fashion designer'

Nurhaeda has a dream – to one day be a ‘famous independent fashion designer – for my family, and for South Sulawesi’. She talks about the many challenges facing young women in her society, and how the EYW program is helping them to create long-term change.

Nurhaeda's story

I grew up in a traditional family, where my father worked as a fisherman while my mom stayed at home as a housewife. Being the oldest, with a younger brother who will be completing school this year, I became the family breadwinner. I had to make the sacrifice – to not continue my own education to a higher level so that I can work to earn some money for my family. However, that won’t stop me from looking for opportunities to continue my education in the future.

Currently, I am working as a tailor in my village and I’m part of the village volunteer health group. With the full support of my family, who always be there for me, I envision myself becoming a successful person with a good job. Once, my family said to me that when they have enough money, they will build a small boutique for me so that I can maximize my skills. This will allow me to express my ideas and feelings about the fashion industry.

However, this plan isn’t running smoothly and I have faced some barriers. One of these relates to the social norms in my society, where women do not have the same opportunities as men. As a woman, I am prevented from going out at night and gathering with my friends – something I cannot do during the day either since I have to work and do all the domestic chores. The restriction makes me feel that I have no freedom to speak out and interact with my friends.

This doesn’t stop my dream of being a designer. Oxfam will help me by giving me the training to enhance my technical skills, especially in clothes design. They will also enable me and the other girls to join the training, through awareness raising in the community. This is essential to change the mindset about the role of women in our society.

The other obstacle to achieving my dream relates to financial resources. It is difficult to find a local bank or cooperative to support my business plan since I don’t have any collateral to guarantee a loan. I definitely need support from Oxfam, such as providing a sewing machine and helping me connect to financial institutions so I can access a loan or even a grant to fund my own boutique.

I think another way to make my dream come true is by enhancing the creativity and innovation of my designs, for instance by creating fusion clothes that combine local and modern culture. I get inspiration and explore opportunities in the fashion industry through social media, like Instagram and Facebook.

I believe that my family and I are the ones who are responsible for bringing about change and achieving my dream. So I have to stand up for myself, and make a difference, to reach my dream!

I really want there to be similar opportunities for men and women.