“How a helping hand changed my life”
This is my story.
As a young woman in my family – which was going through a breakdown – life was challenging. I lacked considerable funds to spend on school necessities due to both of my parents being unemployed. My sister and I were previously a victim of a society in Pakistan that criticised girls and their right to education and de-motivated us from gaining further education. Moreover, most of the limited family funds would go towards my grandparents and two brothers who required constant medications for physical and mental difficulties. This meant that my four siblings and I had to be more responsible and miss out on opportunities other students had access to.
According to the Malala Fund, an organisation run by Malala Yousafzai which aims to bring awareness to the social and economic factors that impact girls’ education, there are over 130 million girls worldwide who do have access to any form of education. Although Australia is more privileged, with equal rights to education available to males and females, there are still many barriers preventing girls and women from pursuing and completing their education, which in turn prevents women from feeling empowered in life. These barriers include the cost of school fees, extra activities, uniforms, books and access to technology, difficulty getting to school due to distance or lack of transportation, financial conditions, difficult family situations, having refugee status, or being a victim of situations like domestic violence and abuse.
Another big influence in stopping girls from being able to reach their full potential include factors such as gender discrimination, which label females as primary caretakers that do not carry the responsibility to earn money. This shapes the values in our societies and influences people to pay special attention to men, enabling them greater status over women. Many women, especially in rural areas, have been denied the right to education and have been subjected to very degrading practices and responsibilities.