Imagine a place famous around the world and known as the Capital of mountain beauty! In your imagination, think about your sisters, daughters and girl friends getting good grades in Matriculation and then putting a full stop to her educational career, not because the society doesn’t allow her, and neither because of her family’s refusal to educate her?
Are these hints enough to guess the place?
Ok. No more hints.
Allow me to draw your attention towards a very serious issue in the largest electoral constituency of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly.
Everything I asked you to imagine is, in fact, true. I am talking about girls education in the entire electoral constituency of GBLA II, Skardu where there is not even a single college for girls administrated by education department.
Girls, after completing their 10th grade, either put full stop to their education or shift to Skardu City to be able to attend college. It goes without saying that not all parents can afford to send their daughters to Skardu. There is no dearth of talent or enthusiasm rough. Last year a girl named Nadia from the constituency topped the Karakoram Board Examination in Gilgit Baltistan.
Government personals from entire Pakistan visit this place; they come here to wine and dine, sometimes they arrange meetings with local people and sometime they are kind enough to ask them about their demands and needs. But the demands placed by people are ridiculous; I haven’t heard anyone demanding a degree college for woman for the entire constituency, not a single demand nor a single effort by anyone from the locality.
Last year we, a group of students, availed an opportunity to meet a female member of the GB Legislative Assembly. We discussed various issues including girls education in the constituency. She said that the people of your GBLA Skardu II constituency need to bring a shift in their priorities from demand land; she said that graveyards, roads, and other issues are the locals’ current priorities, instead of girls’ education.
This attitudinal shift can come through inclusion, and awareness-raising, especially among, and by, the youth.
There are various student organizations aiming to represent students from entire region, but is there any representation of girls in these students organization.? The answer is very straight; No. Can the boys represent the society without giving girls the opportunity to speak up for their rights?
Time has come to amplify the girls’ voices in the house of authorities. Time has come for us to support girls and women in their endeavors and facilitate them in fulfilling their dreams. One step towards this direction can be establishment for a degree college for the girls. Elected leaders, for whom women and girls also vote, need to set their priorities straight, and use their influence to not only establish the college, but also to trigger sustained behavioral change in the society.
The writer is a student of Engineering at CUI Abbottabad, He is a social activist and General Secretary of Glow Together Baltistan (GTB).