Breaking Barriers – Empowering Girls through Education

Friday 16 June 2017

Muhammad Juman is the headmaster of a primary school in Khipro, a small village home to just over 40 households in Sanghar District of the Sindh Province.

Juman has four children. Despite being the headmaster of the local school, Juman did not enroll his two daughters for education. The reason behind his reluctance were conservative values that Juman and other parents of his community grew up with; values that discouraged girls and women to even step out of the house, let alone acquire education.

Khipro falls in the intervention area for Save the Children’s project, Improved food security and enhanced resilience of vulnerable communities in District Sanghar of Sindh, and Community Mobilisation Officer (CMO), Munawara, was in charge of the concerned area. As part of the intervention, the project team formed Village Organisations (VOs) and as luck would have it, Juman’s daughter was selected as a member of the VO. Munawara was shocked to discover that Juman’s daughter could not read or write when she asked for the inkpad to put her thumb impression on the registration form, instead of her signature.

CMO Munawara convinced Muhammad Juman to send his daughter to school by narrating her own example

Upset with the incident, Munawara decided to talk to Juman after the meeting and asked him why he never sent his daughter to school? “People will call me a shameless man with no morals and values if I send my daughter to study,” Juman replied.

Munawara told Juman that she is from Sialkot and works 1,200 km away from home, yet people in the village respect and listens to her.

Education will empower your daughter and add to her respect,”she added.

Girls from 35 out of 40 households in Khipro now study at the local school

A few days later, Munawara discovered that Juman had enrolled both his daughters into school in spite of resistance from his tribe and family. This triggered a chain reaction, and within a month, 35 out of 40 households from Khipro started sending their girls to school.

Although education was not a theme for this project, effective and timely community mobilisation by Save the Children staff not only changed Juman’s perception but also brought about a positive change in the value system of the entire village.