Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School

by Girls Education International
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School
Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School

Dear Pakistan Project Supporters,

Warm greetings! On behalf of Girls Education International (Girls Ed), I sincerely thank you for your generous support of our project, “Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School.” This project is a collaboration with Bedari, our long-time partner organization in Pakistan. 

Access to education is so important for children everywhere, and in the context of rural villages in Pakistan, lack of transportation is a major barrier keeping girls out of secondary school. This, in turn, puts girls at elevated risk of child marriage. Your contributions to Girls Ed have helped keep girls in school and supported their participation in Bedari’s self-growth sessions. 

These experiences empower girls to see themselves as agents of change, as illustrated by the stories shared by some of the girls themselves:

Iqra said:

“My education makes me strong and enables me to use my agency, educate girls about their rights, and speak up against abuse.”

Muqaddas expressed a similar sentiment: 

“My education helps me understand that women and girls are equal human beings, and I stand with everyone. I am now capable of spreading awareness on rights among women and girls and will continue to do so.” 

This kind of ripple effect is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and ending child marriages. Another key factor is persistence, for as long as there is injustice in the world, there is work to be done!

And with your support, we continue the work. After 30 girls graduated last fall, Bedari recruited new participants into the program. Girls were recruited from across six different villages, including some with shorter travel distances than others, which allowed Bedari to add one more girl to the program! There are now 61 girls enrolled in grades 6–12. Each one of these girls has a story all her own. Stay tuned in the coming months as we share many of their stories on our blog and social media.

Having allies like you who are willing to support and advocate for girls’ basic human rights – especially access to education – can make such an enormous difference in girls’ lives. We are so grateful for your support in sustaining this important work!

If you would like to learn more about the work Girls Ed does in Pakistan and beyond, please check out our podcast, follow us on social media (Twitter @girlsed), or reach out to us at info@girlsed.org. 

With kindest regards,

Mercedes Ward

Pakistan Project Manager
Girls Education International
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Self-Growth session conducted by Bedari.
Self-Growth session conducted by Bedari.

Dear Pakistan Project Supporters,

Warm greetings to all! On behalf of Girls Education International (Girls Ed), I thank you for your generous support of our project, “Send 60 Girls in Pakistan to School.” Through your investment in the education of girls in Pakistan, 60 girls have gone to school who otherwise would not have. Thank you—we couldn’t have done it without you!

I also wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself because I recently joined the Board of Directors for Girls Ed as the Project Manager for the Pakistan Project. After finishing my PhD in anthropology, I spent five years on the project management team for a USAID-funded initiative in Pakistan that aimed to expand access to high quality educational opportunities. During this time, I became more aware of the specific barriers to education that girls in Pakistan, especially those in rural villages, must overcome (e.g., lack of access to safe and reliable transportation to school). I also was reminded that effective and appropriate interventions require local partnerships. That’s why when I learned that the Girls Ed model is one of fundraising on behalf of local partner organizations, I wanted to learn more about Bedari, Girls Ed’s partner in Pakistan.

And what I learned—as many of you already know—is that Bedari is led by an amazing woman, Executive Director Anbreen Ajaib (listen to Girls Ed’s recent interview with Anbreen). Bedari’s approach is culturally sensitive, thoughtful, and empowering. Bedari’s deep community relationships have proven essential for an adaptive response throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

What that means in practical terms is that 100% of the girls supported through the Girls Ed Pakistan Project were successful in their studies and promoted to the next grade, including 30 students who have now graduated out of the project. Congratulations to all of these resilient and persistent girls! Applications are currently being received by Bedari to select new students to bring the total participants back up to 60 students.

Finally, since it’s often when we take a long-term view that we see the biggest impact of investment in girls’ education, let me share a couple of updates we received from Bedari about alumni of the Girls Ed Pakistan Project. One alum, Mariam, received support from Girls Ed from 2014 to 2017 and is now running a tuition (coaching) center with more than 50 students! Another alum, Emaan, received support for four years and is now a schoolteacher pursuing her Master’s degree in social sciences. These are the kinds of outcomes we hope are possible for all students supported through Girls Ed’s partnerships.

In upcoming GlobalGiving reports—and via the Girls Ed blog, social media (Twitter @girlsed), and newsletter (sign up here)—we will continue to share stories of girls whose access to education is made possible with your support. As the Girls Ed Pakistan Project Manager, I also look forward to strengthening our impact analysis and reporting in collaboration with Bedari.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Girls Ed with any questions or suggestions. Together we can help ensure access to education for girls living in rural villages in Pakistan and beyond!

With kindest regards,

Mercedes Ward

Pakistan Project Manager

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Girls Playing Sports
Girls Playing Sports

Greetings Girls Ed Pakistan Supporters,

Girls Ed is a small but mighty organization, and we only grow stronger. During this past year, we have worked as a small board of directors to strengthen the organization through intentional and reflective strategic planning. Among many positive outcomes of recent organizational exercises, we have established a core set of pillars to guide our work and we have refined many of our processes and procedures to foster the sustainable growth of Girls Ed.

Growing the Board of Directors

We are currently interviewing for two open positions on the board – Pakistan Project Manager and Member at Large.  We expect to be able to introduce these new board members very soon. In the meantime, we recently welcomed Loni Riley as our new (returning) Treasurer and Lauren Sadler as our new Communications Director. We are thrilled to be adding to our team and look forward to the synergy as we move forward with the next phases of our strategic plan, which include a focus on fundraising efforts and donor relations.

Updates from the Chakwal District

We continue to support 60 girls in Tehsil Talagang of the Chakwal Punjab district in Pakistan. This past year was challenging in many ways due to the pandemic. Across Pakistan, schools closed down and families faced difficult times. With girls out of school, families became concerned about what the girls would do while out of school; some were concerned about pressures to marry.

Girls Ed worked with our partner organization, Bedari to explore alternatives to formal schooling. We shifted our budget to support programs such as local sports competitions, self-defense training, and counseling sessions to keep them positive and motivated during this uncertain time. (See photos of girls in action!) This summer, the Punjab government school association announced a one-month summer camp for 9th and 10th grade students to account for some of the missed schooling during the pandemic. Girls in grades 6 through 8 are engaged in a one-month vocational training program through the end of July.

Grade Level Distribution

Despite the break in schooling, all girls will take examinations at their respective grade levels. Below is the 2021 distribution of girls in our program by grade. We wish them all success so they may advance to the next levels.

  • 2 girls will complete the grade 6 examinations
  • 8 girls will complete the grade 7 examinations
  • 5 girls will complete the grade 8 examinations
  • 13 girls will complete the grade 9 examinations
  • 28 girls will complete the grade 10 examinations
  • 2 girls will complete the grade 11 examinations
  • 1 girl will complete the grade 12 examinations

Nadia Gets Married – A Time for Reflection

While 59 of the girls in our program did not marry in the past year, one student named Nadia did. Her support will be shifted to a new girl. Bedari shared Nadia's story with us as an example of how life impacts girls differently, highlighting the importance of continued awareness raising and advocacy for girls' access to education globally.

Nadia is 17 years old and comes from the village of Sadiq Abad. She is in the 10th grade. Nadia stayed out of school for two years after completing 8th grade, because her father could not afford to pay for her studies. Bedari stepped in and offered to support her transportation through this Girls Ed partnership, so her father agreed to send her back to school. Nadia was excited to join school again and performed well in 9th grade. In addition to her studies, she enjoys writing poetry and articles in Urdu.

Unfortunately, the pandemic resulted in heavy economic consequences for her family. Her father had to borrow money to support his family but was unable to repay his debt. He made the decision to marry his daughter to the lending family as repayment. According to Bedari, it is common practice to give daughters to manage or avoid disputes. Nadia was not happy with this decision and wanted to complete her education.

Members of the Bedari staff visited the family and discussed the matter with her father many times, however, he was convinced to marry her off as soon as possible to get rid of the debt. He argued that it was legal for her to marry since she was above 16 years of age. Bedari requested that she be allowed to complete her education. Her father said that her husband has committed to help her complete the education and bear the expenses. Bedari plans to stay in touch with her; however, they acknowledge that it is unlikely, given expected gender roles of newly married women, that she will continue her studies. Still … we can hope for a different path for her.

Although this is not the outcome we would have imagined for Nadia, the staff at Bedari believe that Nadia has developed a sense of bravery and determination from her studies that will help her to self-advocate in her marriage and in her community so that she has a brave space in which to thrive and support her future children. Nadia’s case prompts us all to reflect on the challenge facing girls today – in 2021. The struggle continues for a world in which all girls can have equal access to education and the right to make their own decisions about their lives. Together with Bedari and you, we will continue to enact our mission and strive to eliminate the gender equality gap.

Please share our work with your network. We believe that in time, as more and more young women are educated in Pakistan, the tides will turn and women will have increased opportunities to make decisions about their futures. 

With gratitude, 

The Girls Ed Team

Girls Group Photo at Game Competition
Girls Group Photo at Game Competition
Nadia
Nadia
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I heard recently someone say, real queens fix each other's crowns. So I've been thingking a lot about how do we raise young women who can enjoy healhty competition yet support each other's brilliance, determination, good luck, beauty even? How can we convince each other that collectively we all do better if there are more women that get to make choices without judgmenet from outside, that feel supported, that can inhale deeply knowing that they are truly loved. 

Every woman I know has looked behind her back when walking alone in the dark, has taken a longer route, has pretended to be on a phone, has looked down to avoid a stare, has pretended to be shopping, has made up an excuse to leave early because she was scared, has smiled uncomfortably at unwanted attention. As a fellow woman, friend, mother, daughter, neighbor, I don't want to tell another woman to not walk home alone. I believe if we collectively support each other and believe each other's experiences and stories, the rest of the world will have no choice but do the same. 

Building self reliance, confidence and strength is not an easy task especially if the society tells us to be submissive, quiet, soft and weak. However, your kind and generous support assures the young women in Pakistan that they have allies in the form or women and men that beliave in them, that support them, that assure them in the necessity to build each other up and fix each other's crowns if need be. Because when women support each other, incredible things happen.

Thank you for your continous support and happy spring to you!

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Our dedicated supporter,

We hope you ease into this new season of cooler temperatures, political instability and continuous Covid cases with grace and optimism for better days ahead of us. I wanted to send you this uplifting update from our partners in Pakistan summarizing the last few months in the lives of young women there.

First great news is that all the girls that GEI supports, which at present are 43 girls from 5 villages, are back in school! Because of Covid Pandemic schools remained closed from March to September, 2020. There was fear that many girls would not come back due to family pressures, but everyone is back. Due to Covid, some exams were conducted while others got cancelled. For the girls whose exams were cancelled, their previous grades were used and they moved ahead in their studies.

During the lockdown our partners at Bedari remained in touch with the girls who have shared their health & psychological issues including financial problems of their families with them. Bedari team did telephonic counseling with them to ease some of the concerns. Also during this time withe GEI's support, a very successful 2 day training was conducted with participants from all 5 villages. The main purpose of the workshop was to speak with the girls about self-awareness. Other topics covered included sex and gender issues, self defense, life future planning, etc.  During the training, a session on self-protection was organized for the girls by engaging a Martial Art’s trainer (who herself is a young woman studying in Grade 12 in Chakwal city). Many questions emerged from the training, which created much needed conversations with the facilitators.   I want to share some of the quesitons that emerged from the students at the workshop:

  • Why parents don’t have a friendly environment with their daughters?
  • How to treat infections at home due to lack of personal hygiene?
  • What should we do if we feel harassed by our relatives?
  • Parents always think opposite of what we think about our lives. How do we tell the parents about our happiness? 
  • What to do when our elders don’t understand our emotions when we get angry and they call us rude?
  • How to make good friends?
  • Is breaking an engagement a sin like getting divorced? 

I belive asking the right questions is the first step toward finding the answers. We hope GEI and Bedari collectively use these questions to guide us toward providing the young women in Pakistan with what they need, with the aim of bettering and empowering their lives. 

Finally I want to leave you with a story of one of our students from a remote village area of Sadiqabad. It took long time for a 14 year old Sadia to convince her brothers and parents to allow her to ride a bike, which is largely unexceotable for the women in her area. She was finally able to gain their support. She writes:

... my 4-year old youngest brother had to be vaccinated. My brothers and father were not home and my mother was ill. In this disturbing situation, I put my little brother on a bicycle without any hesitation and took him with me for vaccination. Many times I used to ask my brothers if I could use thier bicycles but they always said no. After this incident and seeing my dedication towards doing outdoor household chores by using bicycle as convenience, my family has somehow accepted that girls can also ride the bicycle and can do all the activities that boys can do. I think my bold step has broken the society’s social barriers at least in my village. I believe that I am no more an ordinary girl who is just restricted to the household chores, in fact I feel empowered like any other person in the society who can achieve anything irrespective of the gender discrimination".

Indeed better days are ahead of us.  

 

With Kindest Regards, we thank you for you continuous support

Pakistan Project Leader - Tamrika Khvtisiashvili 


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Organization Information

Girls Education International

Location: Boulder, CO - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @girlsed
Project Leader:
Mercedes Ward
Boulder, CO United States
$61,346 raised of $75,000 goal
 
1,080 donations
$13,654 to go
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