This month, Safeer Ullah Khan of Bedari, the Pakistani women and girls’ rights organization and Girls Ed
partner, stopped in Denver to visit with GEI board members and co-founder Lizzy Scully. Safeer was in the United States to participate in the International Volunteers Leader Program sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
Although Girls Ed has partnered with Bedari and worked with Safeer since 2009, it was the first face-to-face meeting with him. Safeer shared much information about the state of girls’ education in Pakistan, but perhaps most striking was the effect of the GEI/Bedari partnership on the lives of 30 girls in Laphi, an agricultural town of 3,500 people in north-central Pakistan.
Before the partnership began, no girl in Laphi had ever attended secondary school. Most girls would get married before their 16th birthday and begin their own large families — the average is seven children per woman in Laphi.
Some men in the village were against educating girls, fearing the girls would become disrespectful to their elders. Also, the scholarships, which some in Laphi saw only as charity, were not initially welcome by the proud residents.
Three years later, there have been significant changes. Ten girls in the village have completed their secondary education, with 30 girls currently attending secondary school. Twenty-two of those girls are sponsored by Girls Ed. The other eight? Their families are now paying for their daughters’ expenses, which speaks volumes about the change in attitude towards girls and secondary education.
Our thanks to Safeer Ullah Khan for traveling to Denver to update us on Bedari‘s efforts on behalf of our Laphi girls. It’s always inspirational to meet an individual who is so committed to the rights and education of women and girls in under-developed parts of the world.
GEI is pleased to be working with Safeer and Bedari to change not only the lives of these 30 girls, but to help create a larger, positive trend towards girls’ education in Pakistan.