“We recently had troubled learning from one of our interventions that majority of the marriages of young girls result in complete disconnection from the previous life. The opportunities of staying in touch with former class fellows, continuing education, starting a career or empowerment are lost.”These were the views shared by Areebah Shahid, Executive Director Pakistan Youth Change Advocates (PYCA) while moderating a webinar “Married, But Not Excluded”.
This webinar was organized by PYCA and inHive Global with participation from representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), educationists, and young university-going girls from all across the country.
Madiha Nisar, MPA KP Assembly, and vice president KP Women Parliamentary Caucus address the participants through a video message and shared “The age group of girls between 18 to 25 years in our society is generally considered ideal for marriage. It becomes very difficult for a girl to pursue her education or career when she is married at a young age. I can personally relate to the challenges since I got married while I was studying and the sudden change in life, adjusting to the new environment and simultaneously continuing my education was a big challenge.”
Speaking about barriers of engaging young married women and overcoming these barriers, Qamar Naseem, Coordinator of Blue Veins shared his experiences “The challenges faced by young married women to serve as agents of change are hardly discussed on any platform. The biggest challenge we as a civil society organization face while engaging young married women is the decision-making power which is in control of the in-laws and male heads of the family rather with the girl herself. We make our interventions inclusive and we encourage young married to participate even if they need to bring their children along so they feel a sense of comfort.”
Rubeha Tahir, a young development practitioner and Policy Research & Advocacy Coordinator with Pakistan Coalition for Education shared her experiences of challenges while engaging with young married girls “The biggest challenge is that girls who are married at a young age drop-out of schools and never return to the education system. Even if they do, they are treated differently in the school’s environment, like outcasts. We must invest more in adult literacy programs for young married girls who have prematurely dropped out of the school system. We should not only focus on academics but also of equipping them financial and digital literacy as well as with life-skills.”
Kainat Fatima, a young entrepreneur from Peshawar shared her lived experiences and shared “Employment opportunities is one the biggest challenge faced by young married girls. We often see job advertisements from equal opportunity employers but they restrict married girls from applying to vacancies. For many career-oriented young girls, suitors put the condition of quitting the job or any work that the girls are doing. I have personally observed that in such situations even the girl’s family doesn’t support her choice of choosing the career. They prefer that she quits her job and gets married.”