Meaningful community engagement and women’s empowerment pave the way for attaining girls’ rights, but until Sindh Community Mobilization Program’s (CMP’s) intervention in one of the program construction schools—Government Boys High School (GBHS), Monder Lakha—in November 2013, the community there didn’t realize the importance of women’s empowerment.
The village, Monder Lakha, in Taluka Nasirabad, District Kamber Shahdadkot, is home to more than 300 households belonging to the Khuhawar, Lakha, Phlpota and Syed communities.
Before CMP’s intervention, there wasn’t a single female teacher appointed in the school and not a single woman was a part of the school management committee (SMC). For this reason, the school had 325 girls enrolled on the general register but only 45 attending school. To tackle this issue, CMP introduced the gender mainstreaming concept by restructuring SMC sub-committees and facilitated an avenue for three women to become SMC members. The motivation behind including women in a decision-making body was to foster girls’ education by addressing the lack of female teachers and basic facilities, ensure retention and promote women’s empowerment.
Once women joined decision-making bodies, CMP engaged them in capacity building activities and provided them with firsthand knowledge of health, nutrition and hygiene, which helped them in improved knowledge attitude and practices towards children’s nutrition and hygiene.
Ms. Shaista Muzaffar, SMC member and female teacher appointed with the coordination of CMP, shared that, “It was first time ever when we got an opportunity to attend training with other male community members and enhanced our knowledge about health and hygiene. Prior to me there was no female teacher, so responsibility lies on my shoulder that I trickle down this training to students and other community members.”
Ms. Shaista passed down the knowledge she gained through trainings by conducting sessions consisting of nine standardized modules, given by CMP. She feels happy to serve as a School Health and Nutrition Committee (SHNC) member to disseminate knowledge and information with parents as well as school students. In addition to SHNC trainings, CMP also organized an Enrollment Campaign, Women Inclusion Sessions, Annual School Day, Global Hand Washing Day and Universal Children Day, during which women enthusiastically participated and made significant efforts to raise girls’ enrollment from 325 to 344 and ensured regular attendance of all students.
CMP is a USAID-funded program that supports the Government of Sindh’s education reform and USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Program. CMP improves school resources and encourages community support for educational reform in Sindh province while identifying and addressing primary barriers to access, particularly for female students.