November 12, 2014 By Danny Kaufman and Dorianna Blitt
Despite the international attention and support that recent Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai has brought to the issue of girls’ education in Pakistan, women and girls in rural areas of the country continue to face threats in attending school.
Following attacks and threats against female students and teachers in Pakistan’s Balochistan region by Islamist militants in May 2014, the local government shut down more than 35 schools in the remote district of Panjgur.
While the government stood idly by, local organization Health and Rural Development (HARD) Balochistan decided to take action and mobilize their community to ensure that its girls were able to access education safely and return to school. With a rapid grant from Urgent Action Fund, HARD organized peaceful demonstrations, met with local government officials, and brought much-needed attention to this issue in local and international media.
“They should not surrender before these fanatics… The government should provide foolproof security to every teacher, student and staff member of these schools”
As a result of HARD’s campaign, the government reopened all schools in September 2014, and provided additional security to protect the students and staff from future attacks. In all, more than 70,000 girls have returned to school, and over 5,000 teachers and administrators, many of whom are women, have returned to work.
Importantly, the municipal government has also begun meeting with local women’s groups, organizations, and universities on a regular basis to develop locally led solutions to better protect the community from future threats.
Ensure that women’s rights organizations, like HARD, continue to have access to vital resources to respond quickly to threats and create lasting change – Make a donation to Urgent Action Fund today.