19-year-old Shughla Ismail took a huge risk when she launched an education and advocacy campaign in Peshawar, Pakistan in summer of 2014. In fact, she risked her own life, establishing her Young Feminist Movement campaign (YFM) in the heart of a traditional patriarchal tribal society currently undergoing a wave of fundamentalism.
Shughla, who grew up in Pakistan notes, “Living in a male dominated country where religious extremism is at its peak, it is extremely challenging for a girl to get education." Shughla designed a model that began with capacity building for young girls in the northwestern part of Pakistan, to engage them on the subject of education as a human right and encourage them to seek quality education for themselves and to advocate for others.
In the summer of 2014, supported by WGSI’s Ideation Grant, 55 girls from Peshawar and Marden, as well as many teachers and parents of the girls, joined the project. The YFM team met with the girls, and a platform was provided where the girls stood and spoke about their vision of change for the educational system. This vision includes a society in which women share equal access to social services, financial resources, recreation, decision making and property rights with men.
In articulating its vision, YFM emphasizes the importance of challenging the prevalence of Patriarchy which is perpetuated by incessant sexual violence and capitalist exploitation in society. It also seeks to make contributions to the changing the culture of inferiority that undermines the position of women in certain swathes of Pakistani society where they are considered the property of men.
On September 20th, 2014, the group held a meeting with six policy makers from the Education Ministry in Peshawar Club, in which the “Young Girls Committee” participated and expressed their views and ideas regarding the policy changes girls need for improved education and increasing literacy rates. They presented a Charter of Demands, which they had written, with discussion. The girls spoke eloquently asserting their rights and presenting new ideas for the education systems. It was a watershed moment, bringing a new level of awareness to the Ministry about the needs of girls in the district, and the power in numbers as the Young Girls Committee made their voices heard.
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