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This is Hibba's Story

“I got a helping hand to make the most of my education, and it’s a gift that has changed my life.”​

Education has the power to change the world, and scholarships hold the power to change the course of your lives. Education for women is critical and scholarships can achieve that for all women. With strong educational backgrounds, women have the capacity to achieve their goals and create financial freedom for both themselves and their families. Isn’t that a perfect blend?

I have been awarded the opportunity to experience the life-changing impact a scholarship can have on one’s education. My life has been completely changed for the better because of a high school scholarship through the Harding Miller Education Foundation. 

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.  

So, the question remains: is Australia all that better in providing equal education opportunities compared to other wealthy countries?

Luckily, there are Australian charitable organisations such as the Harding Miller Education Foundation that have the foresight to see the value in education to change the gender inequality issue through education. The HMEF scholarships provide disadvantaged girls like me with the tools and resources needed to not only complete high school, but achieve their full potential; enabling pathways to further education and brighter futures. They target high-potential female students experiencing personal or socio-economic disadvantages in high schools.

“The scholarship has had a major impact on not only my life, but my family’s as well; it has moulded me into a strong, resilient woman who finally has the chance to chase after her desires and offer help to her family.”

Luckily for me, I was able to apply for their scholarship. The only thing that kept me motivated in the face of all my struggles were the possibilities of being successful. Little did I realise that my hopes would soon be answered, and my life would take a turn for the best. 

The scholarship has had a major impact on not only my life, but my family’s as well; it has moulded me into a strong, resilient woman who finally has the chance to chase after her desires and offer help to her family. The scholarship has granted me the opportunity to rise out of my living conditions and improve them by exceeding my academic potential through the resources included in the scholarship package. 

This scholarship is a powerful tool which has empowered me to be proud and equal to my male counterparts. It has given me a voice and an opportunity to unlock my potential and demand change. It has made my dreams possible and offered me the support and comfort I need to establish a worthwhile career.

Every woman should be given the opportunity to pursue an education. Through platforms such as the Harding Miller Education Foundation, girls are given the opportunity to focus on and advance in their education. The financial assistance they provide enables students to undertake further education opportunities that may have otherwise been hard for them to access.

My advice to all the young girls in the world is to stand proud of their gender and to never underestimate their capabilities. Apply for as many scholarships as you can, and if you are a citizen of Australia, apply for a Harding Miller scholarship. Scholarships can open numerous doors for you: some you have never even thought of before.