Climb for a cause: Young girls challenge the stereotypes against women

General Islamabad

Islamabad: As many as 50 young girls got engaged in daylong activities of rock climbing, camping and cooking to challenge the stereotypes about gender roles such as one that women can not undertake any strenuous tasks.

The girl students of leading universities and colleges started to climb the Margalla Hills trail in the morning as a symbol of their strength and commitment to challenge the taboos and stereotypes. They engaged in competitions of camping, cooking and also gained the awareness of the issues.

The event was organized by the ‘We Can’ End All Violence Against Women Organization which was initiated as a South Asian campaign by Oxfam Gb in 2005. ‘We Can’ Pakistan chapter is an alliance member of ‘We Can’ global network comprising of 14 countries around the globe where campaign is operational. In Pakistan, ‘We Can’ works through a core group of four provincial implementing partner organizations and a network of change makers (persons who pledge not to commit any violence against women). ‘We Can’ organization marks 16 days of activism and other international days through a number of events and celebrations and rock climbing was also part of the 16days activism.

It’s was a multi-purposed activity that not only focused on attitudinal change but also provided a forum for youth engagement and awareness. “These participants will carry a good name from this event in their respective universities and will be ‘change-makers’ in their respective spheres, motivating and encouraging others to take lead in their lives” said the head of ‘We Can’ Pakistan Ms. Hajra Pasha, National Coordinator.

She said the campaign used the symbol of rock climbing as it not only involves strenuous exercise, physically strength but also challenges mental capabilities. It teaches a person how to strategize in order to achieve his/her target, consolidates belief on will power and capacitates on endurance. These lessons are very relevant to daily life learning and are geared towards gender empowerment, from a behaviourist perspective.

Speaking on the occasion one of the participants from Bahria University, Ayesha said “such activities provide not only encouragement but also a sense of empowerment to female students, challenging patriarchal mindset and embarking a bright prosperous future for Girls Education”.

Another student from City School, Aleena said “I am very thankful to ‘We Can’ for helping us understand socioeconomic challenges that women face and a way forward, Rock Climbing taught us to fearlessly confront our challenges, strategize our path forward and most of all to believe in our self”.

Prominent women from civil society, academia and other walks of life participated in the event and shared their stories and experiences with the younger girls.

Other highlights of the event included the screening of ‘We Can’ documentary based on real life stories of change maker, interactive games, cooking completion and motivational talk by Sirmad Tariq and Ms Zehra Kamal.