By Sarmad Soomar
Various educational activities have been shifted online since the advent of the CoVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan. This transition, for many, was a hard situation hindering educational and community building goals. At almost the same time a project name “Wo Kahani” was also getting launched, with the goal of developing Pakistan ‘s “first ever” extensive youth leadership program on gender health and education.
The program was expected to continue for six (6) months, developing ten (10) professionals to understand the status of gender equality in the country and serve at grass root levels in Pakistan. These professionals included teachers, coordinators, a midwife, nurses and students.
The CoVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for the team and the project leads to execute this ongoing flexible program through a face to face approach. Therefore, the program was moved online, with participants engaging in blended modes of learning, including through seminars, activities and complete their capacity building tasks through various modes.
Experts like Dr Yasmeen Qazi, Dr Sara Shroff, Kami Choudhry, Siddique Wali, Khursand Ali and Salman Ranani served as speakers, panelists, advisors and mentors to this program.
At the end participants were expected to run their own community building and uplift projects which seemed very difficult in the beginning but were easily accomplished through expert support and technological innovations.
Sitting at the home during the pandemic, the participants were able to develop their knowledge, skills and attitudes and successfully apply them at the community level as well. These projects included gender health training for youth and healthcare providers, animated educational videos on family planning (in contextualized languages) and dealing with common questions about gender dynamics among children and parents.
Some of these community-based projects were recognized nationally and were appreciated for their outcomes. The project teams were mentored by a group of young professionals from Karachi, working on gender health and education related activities named Sarosh Shafiq, Komal Sabir, Sana Gul, Kiran Abbas and Awais Rahman.
The team Wo Kahani is tirelessly working on Gender Equality in Pakistan through involving young children and their parents to utilize innovative story books (initial series launching in September 2020)for transforming their children’s concepts and the leadership program is another venture under this project lead by Rise Up fellow Sarmad Muhammad Soomar. The project is supported by Rise Up (based in Public Health Institute, California) and Pakistan Innovative Summit for Education (Gilgit, Pakistan based Youth Organization).
The leadership program was initiated on mid of February 2020 and is closed through an online ceremony recently in August 2020.