International Women’s Day 2019: #BalanceforBetter

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Each year on March 8, women are celebrated at home and internationally. In short, International Women’s Day (IWD) was created over 100 years ago by the Socialist Party of America to aid in diminishing discrimination against women not only in America, but all around the globe. One of the main focuses of this day is to assist women in gaining equal, and complete participation in global development. Each year the theme changes and focuses on how to truly create a gender equal world. This year’s theme is: Better the balance, better the world #BalanceforBetter. As stated on the IWD website, “balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue.” Furthermore, “…in order for all of us to succeed we need a gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage etc…”

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There are troves of amazing women spreading and catapulting this year’s theme, but I wanted to focus at the grassroots level. I wanted to highlight the unsung heroes from our very own Pakistani community who dedicate their lives to educating children in rural areas who do not have the same access to schooling and education as some other communities. Therefore, this year Just4Girls’ wants to thank and appreciate Rabia Irshad. I was introduced to Rabia in 2018 during a visit to very small village in Gharo where The President and CEO of Just4Girls opened up Nazar Bhatti & Shahida Mehboob Memorial School providing free education for all children. The philanthropic portion of Just4Girls’ called MKMZ (Mera Karachi, Meri Zimaydari) opened up this school.

I had the pleasure to meet Rabia again this year in February, and got a chance to chat with her about the amazing work she does and how she got involved in such an organization. Mini interview as follows:

SM: Hi, Rabia! Please tell me a little bit about yourself?

RI: Hello, I am Rabia Irshad from Karachi, Pakistan. I received a Masters degree in Islamic History from University of Karachi. My profession is teaching.

Image Courtesy of: Rabia Irshad

SM: How did you get involved in MKMZ?

RI: First off, I am so proud to be apart of MKMZ. I would like to thank, Aunty Gohar (the director of Nazar Bhatti & Shahida Mehboob Memorial School) because she is the one who told me about this organization and asked me to get involved. I would also like to thank Ma’am Fariha for the amazing free school she co-created with Saqib Kazmi.

Image Courtesy of: Sadaf Malik

SM: Why did you get involved in MKMZ?

RI: Due to my teaching background, I wanted to help facilitate and create curriculum. Also I have been conducting teacher training sessions in Gharo. I want to make sure that the education these children are receiving are starting to get on par with the modern techniques that are applied in the current educational system. The main goal of the curriculum I create is to aid students in becoming self-directed learners.

Image Courtesy of: Sadaf Malik

SM: At the Nazar Bhatti & Shahida Mehboob Memorial School what stands out to you the most?

RI: For the three years that I have been involved with the school, what I love the most is that fact that boys and girls have the same opportunity to learn. Whatever opportunities the boys have so do the girls. They learn, sit, eat, and play together which is incredible to see. One day gender equality will be the rule not the exception.

Image Courtesy of: Sadaf Malik

SM: Rabia, I really appreciate your time and sharing your story with me for International Women’s Day. It’s truly wonderful to see all the great things you are doing to help educate our rural communities in Pakistan. Is there anything else you want to tell me or share?

RI: I feel blessed to be apart of such a wonderful organization. Seeing these children hungry and passionate for knowledge is what fuels me. Also, I am just one person, there are so many other people who dedicate their time and volunteer.

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On this IWD, take some time out and appreciate the amazing things women are doing all around us. In order for the world to progress gender equality is key.

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