Lubna Tayyab

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2005


This profile was prepared when Lubna Tayyab was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Such a strong taboo exists against prostitution in Pakistan that there are almost no options for sex workers wanting to change their lives. Lubna is improving this deplorable situation, mindful of the limitations of working in a social environment that includes religious extremists and mafia bosses with strong links to the State. Lubna is moving ahead step by step to organize residents and gradually introduce social services in the area.
With each new success, Lubna is gaining residents’ confidence and empowering them toward sustainability. In addition to providing health services and peer counseling, Lubna is tapping into the existing talents of lower castes women, specifically in the performing arts area. Lubna is establishing an academy specializing in music, dance, singing, and acting to teach poor girls and sex workers how to pursue alternate employment options. And, by bringing the existing scattered training opportunities all under one roof, she hopes to rejuvenate the deteriorated red light district into a vibrant cultural center.
Lubna has high hopes for the center, which she sees as essential to breaking the barriers between mainstream society and residents of the red light district. Key to its success is that society participates in rectifying the prostitution problem—which has long been ignored. Thus, Lubna is working nationally and internationally to mobilize human rights organizations and donor funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, health services, youth education, and recognition of residents’ specific needs.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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