Building Young Girls Leadership
Pakistan is a country, rampant with anti-women practices, patriarchal traditions, ugly taboos and violent social norms. Chronic gender-based discriminations are kind of inbuilt at family level. Violence against females is the most common and powerful mechanism used by family and society to silence voices of women resistance to the existing gender-related social order. The social construction of gender establishes male authority and power over women and girls, and provides the basis for gender-based violence in the society.
Differences in opportunities and access to the resources between men and women exist all over the world, but they are most common in Pakistan perhaps. To understanding, such differences start developing at quite early stages; for example, girls are taught to be inside the four walls of house with limited and controlled exposure to the outside worlds. Boys usually receive a larger share of family income on their education and health as compare to girls. Girls are allowed less education by their families than boys, and this might be shown by the lower female primary school enrolment and lower literacy rates in females. Consequently, girls lack confidence, less employment opportunities and consequently have their potential dried up. The lower spending on girls’ health results in higher mortality rates and lower life expectancy rates in girls than boys.
On account of limited practical exposure to outside world, prevailing patriarchy and religious norms, majority of young girls in Pakistan tend to be inflicted with negative social myths, believing themselves as second grade creature inferior to men and meant for servility to menfolk. Although women and girls in cities and urban areas of Pakistan are trying resist anti-women atmosphere, but for less educated girls/women, particularly in rural areas rural it is still a long way to go. They are in need of external help and assistance to break those popular myths and empower themselves.
Keeping in view the above stated facts, WISE has been addressing the social and religious myths surrounding and controlling the female bodies and their persons. And this is not possible without organizing and educating the young girls in order to lay down the foundation for well-informed and empowered future women, who could be able to understand their bodies and persons and assert their rights without fear.
WISE has been providing opportunities to those, living in working class and under privileged communities, are less educated, lack confidence and exposure. But they hanker for opportunities to get themselves exposed to knowledge and interaction. The lot of young girls needed to be empowered and equipped with fresh and bold ideas. If organized and imparted with rights awareness, they can challenge those myths and help stop/reduce gender discrimination & gender-based violence.
WISE encouraged the young girls in its program activities including meetings, seminars, rallies and residential training workshop; also helped grooming of female leadership at early stage which is vital for future women leadership. WISE is organizing the members of young girls’ groups even at the union council level. Generally, the content of the training workshops is based on the concepts of leadership, women empowerment, gender equality and Democracy.
Girls on Wheel - A Road towards Women Empowerment:
Independent mobility of women is big issue in Pakistan. Riding bike for women is considered as taboo. Working Women and girl students rely on either male family members or poor public transport infrastructure to commute. When they tend to use public transport, they no longer feel safe there due to public harassment.
So, under its on-going program, “Women’s Voice & Leadership - Pakistan”, WISE initiated “Girls on Wheels” in 2021 to empower young girls and women and help provide them independent mode of transport to work or just learning a life-skill. To start with we have provided 3 scootees plus training to our three staff members. They are quite happy with this newfound freedom of movement. In view of the rising demand from community, a rotational policy has been devised in this regard to provide this opportunity to other women staff members and community activists.
- 300 young girls, graduates and professionals were imparted trainings on different topics; gender equality, political participation, family laws, skill enhancements and safeguarding
- 25 students and young graduates (mostly female) were offered internship.
- 26 young females were offered short and long-term employment at WISE
- 80% staff of WISE comprise on young women, working on key positions