In Pakistan, girls lack basic rights. Many are forced into early childhood marriages and are taken out of school. Aware Girls works in the North West of Pakistan where security for human rights activists and for young women and girls remains a challenge. Furthermore, state laws make it difficult for local organisations to access international funds.
Aware Girls promotes equal rights for girls in Pakistan by providing access to education and health resources, employment opportunities and social services, and by empowering girls and young women to make their own decisions.
The organisation was founded in 2002 by seven young women, including 16-year-old Gulalai Ismail, in order to inspire and build the capacity of girls to become leaders and shape their nation’s future. It is the first organisation in the country led by girls, for girls.
Aware Girls runs a variety of programmes to raise awareness of girls’ rights by building the leadership skills of girls and young women. These include training courses on leadership, human rights, civic and political empowerment, addressing violence against women and HIV/AIDS education.
Aware Girls has set up 40 Girls’ Power Clubs in rural areas of Pakistan teaching more than 1,200 girls key leadership skills. Meanwhile, the AIDS Discussion Clubs reach more than 1,500 girls directly every year. Aware Girls also runs a helpline to support girls and women who are survivors of domestic abuse. It provides advice to more than 2,000 people every year.
In the 2013 general election, Aware Girls led a team of 100 young women to monitor the elections, the first ever team of young female election monitors in the history of Pakistan. In the 2015 local elections, 42 young women trained by Aware Girls will run for office.
Over the last few years Aware Girls has received international recognition for its work, receiving the Commonwealth Youth Award (2015), Stars Foundation Global Rising Star Award (2014), International Democracy Award (2013), Humanist of the Year Award (2014), and the 100 Leading Global Thinkers (2013).
Aware Girls also won one of the first Global Rising Star awards due in part to its exceptional involvement of the children and communities it serves within its programme design and delivery.
Aware Girls is a partner of Peace Direct. Read more about how they are working to challenge extremism and build peace in Pakistan.
Photos: Dania Ali/Stars Foundation.