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Pakistan: opening chinks in the armour.

Authors
  • Chhabra, R
Type
Published Article
Journal
People & the planet
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1998
Volume
7
Issue
3
Pages
20–21
Identifiers
PMID: 12321762
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

In Pakistan, a dozen young women attended a "Girl Child Project (GCP) Supervisors Meeting" in a rural home. While this gathering hardly seems revolutionary, the young women had to take the unusual step of travelling unescorted to attend, relying on community recognition of their hard-earned status as Baiji (aunt/elder sister). Later, a effervescent leader conducted a tour of her project ward where girls do needlework, operate nursery schools, attend sewing or literacy classes, and tend a vegetable garden. At the start of her 7-year involvement with the GCP, this leader, who now inspires awe for her ability to call a public meeting, was a newly widowed mother of a baby who resented the workshops that forced her to talk to outsiders. Another role model is a leader who used the project to develop skills that landed her a full-time job as an extension worker in the National Rural Support Program. The recent arrangements for this young woman's marriage included the unprecedented agreement of her fiance to live with her widowed mother so his new bride could continue to help care for her three younger siblings. The GCP began in the early 1990s by training 500 young women who, in turn, trained others, has expanded to 10,000 girls in 200 locations, and is beginning another major expansion. While the GCP has achieved community support, it will require connections to governmental programs and nonexploitative market mechanisms in order to continue its success. This effort may be aided by the networking of the Family Planning Association of Pakistan and by the government's new educational policy that focuses on the needs of girls.

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