Bilqees Baloch

Women empowerment, Female Education are terms we are talking about often. In social media, mainstream media and Newspapers. Defined as recreating circumstances in which women accomplish and lead what they were previously denied. Most of us may know after various campaigns and awareness programs know that improving female education, and thus the earning potential of women, improves the standard of living for their own children, and the country as a whole. Yet, many barriers to education for girls remain. This is especially true for one of the oldest settlements and densely populated township in Karachi, the Lyari or “heart of Karachi”.

Waan is a community organisation for female empowerment in Lyari. This initiative is taken by an amazing girl I had the pleasure to meet and work with. Asma has quieted her 9 to 5 job and works full time in Waan. Walking in the room, one hears the confident joyful voices of young girls. Answering questions, sharing stories and the most delightfully playing football. Far from a typical classroom of government schools some girls go to, this is what we may call an ideal ‘flip’ classroom where learning by activities is the basis. I can say it’s the most thriving classroom I have ever witnessed.

On the opposite wall you see artworks and pictures of powerful, famous women history has ever witnessed. Bearing the portray of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto reminding the girls that they can one day conquer all odds and raise beyond expectations, breaking glass ceilings. Girls gaze with amazement the picture of Muniba Mazari and Malala Yousufzai.

Embracing reality, we are far from having any resources like table and chairs. It’s an inevitable fact that resources keep an institution running, we are keen to change the attitudes and beliefs but on the other hand investments are absolutely critical. Investment in equipment, recruiting volunteers is what we seek to achieve the transition from an extremely small scale centre to a strategic institutional priority for female empowerment. To make sure that girls learn effectively the skills to adapt and navigate in the wider world and contribute to their communities, we need to pave the path.