Ehsaas Education Stipends empowering poor to send their girls to schools: Sania Nishtar

ISLAMABAD: Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), Centre for Education and Consciousness, launched Girls Education and Enterprise Alliance (GEEA) to empower girls and young women in Pakistan with the support of national and global champions of Girls’ Education here on Wednesday.

The purpose of the gathering was to bring together parliamentarians, government, development partners, industry, education experts and civil society advocates on one platform to Pledge for SMART Programs for out of school girls/adolescents across the country.

SAPM Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar while addressing the event said, “Our government is fully conscious that an educated girl can contribute more effectively to society. Ehsaas’ conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes providing cash stipends for education and nutrition are purposely skewed in favour of girls to safeguard gender equity”.

To incentivize girls’ education, Dr. Sania said that Ehsaas provides a higher stipend amount to parents for girls under the “Ehsaas Education Stipends” and are offered support through higher secondary school.

She said, that the programme has nationwide outreach and children aged (4-22) of all Ehsaas families are eligible. “Under the umbrella of Ehsaas, the government has also introduced a ‘Graduation Stipend’ for girls completing the primary education.

This award is stipulated to facilitate the continuation of girls’ education to secondary level, as a dropout rate is very high among girls at this stage”, she added further.

Speaking in solidarity to the alliance, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr. Christian Turner said “Girls Education is imperative for Pakistan’s growth as girl’s education builds richer fairer and healthier societies. I’m here to say that UK will help in this journey!”

ITA CEO Baela Raza Jamil officially announced the launch of GEEA followed by partners signing up for the alliance.

Besides, Aida Girma, Country Representative, UNICEF; Javed Ahmed Malik, Programme Director, Malala Fund; Mosharraf Zaidi, CEO, Tabadlab; Samar Minallah, Human Rights Activist; and Amna Khalid, FCDO; Alima Bibi, UNESCO; Akiko Hanaya and Nazia Sehar, JICA; Fahad Hussain, Dawn News; Waseem Ajmal, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training; Shabnam Sarfaraz, Ministry of Planning and Development; Ameena Saiyid, Lightstone Publishers; Syed Shahnawaz Ali, Country Director Oxfam; Munazza Gillani, Country Director Sightsavers Pakistan were also present at the launch.

They vowed their support to the alliance and expressed their commitment to scaling up education and enterprise for girls and women in Pakistan.

ITA has been implementing several programmes on girls’ education, life skills and enterprise in collaboration with the government, development organizations, private sector and CSOs.

The beneficiaries of these programmes shared their voices about pathways to education, enterprise and digital empowerment in conversation with British Council and Circle Women.

The event also saw dialogues by the Graduates/Alumni, symbolizing transformative interventions (6 to 18 months) that worked in upgrading their lives and those of their families.

There were pledges to join GEEA to scale-up actions for locally-led solutions and best practices that work for the most marginalized adolescent girls.

According to Human Rights Watch, prior to COVID-19, globally there were more than 98 million adolescent girls out of school; whereas, in Pakistan 12 million girls are out of school. Responding to this emergency, ITA has so far supported 60, 000 girls since 2018 through multiple programs for Girls Education & Enterprise Siyani Sahelian (wise friends), Uraan (flight) and Aasman Sey Batein (speaking to the skies) & Education Foundations.

Through GEEA, ITA seeks to extend strategic partnerships for advancing girls’ education and enterprise in Pakistan. GEEA’s twin pillars are education (as lifelong learning), and enterprise (skills for livelihoods) embedded firmly in life skills and agency to reach their full potential as empowered girls and young women. They, in turn become multipliers for their families, schools, communities and countries.