Welcome back. Our programme is called “Education – Our Basic Right.” And today from Studio Jazba we present SYCOP’s Executive Director – Umme Kalsoom Seyal. Hello, Afsal Sahab. We would like to spread a message – and we hope it reaches as many listeners as possible – that people send their daughters to school. And we want every girl to go to school for at least 12 years. Pakistan is very close to my heart. It is my home country. My activism started in Pakistan and this is the country where I want to see every girl in school because I was once there and I could not get my education and many girls are still deprived of education there. When I meet Champions in Pakistan, it gives me hope. I can see these amazing people who are working in the most deprived and marginalised communities, who are helping girls who may not be able to get any
opportunity to complete their education if these activists are not there to support them. My name is Umme Kalsoom Seyal. and I am the Executive Director in SYCOP organisation. I have been working in this organisation since 1996. We focus on vulnerable communities to uplift them, to work for them. Muzaffargarh is a very remote area in South Punjab and a deprived area, which is why our work here is mostly on education. Girls who don’t go to school, we assist them. We work towards the improvement of schools. We also do lobbying and advocacy projects. I have come here to ask you something important. So, what’s the custom here? Do you continue your daughters’ education after primary school? No. If you look back 23 or 24 years in this region it was frowned upon for a woman to even leave her home. Muzzafargarh is an impoverished area. Moreover, access to schools is a problem. Parents don’t allow their daughters to travel long distances. Till the time a girl is in primary school, she is accompanied by her siblings. But once she grows older parents tend to pull her out of school; she drops out. We are working on a project with Malala Fund where we are focusing on quality secondary education. In this regard, we have made some girls into advocates. They are studying. But they also help us find other girls in their neighbourhoods who might have dropped out of school. Not only do the advocates inform us, but they also try to motivate those girls to go to school. After my father passed away, my mother didn’t allow me to study more. She asked me to stay at home because I had many responsibilities. So, I was stuck at home. But my friend Dua Fatima convinced her to send me back to school. Women councillors who work with our local government, also form part of our group. We train them too. So it is our goal, to convert our grassroots level demands into policy through policymakers. I find it satisfying to work with SYCOP. I visit people and explain to them that despite schools being far away, they must send their daughters to primary school. They should allow their daughters to travel to school because girls’ education is very important. Malala Fund has provided us with an opportunity and we have all availed of it. Not only do we champions build our capacity, but we should use our position to work with people for girls’ education. Many girls have enrolled in school because of our work. But there’s more to be done. I believe that with more opportunities, we can discover even more potential.