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 Attachments: