Women Wednesday #25
Posted on 19 April 2017
(Global Teacher Prize)
Humaira Bachal was around 15 years old when, in 2001, she set up her own school with her sister and three friends. Official literacy rates for Pakistani women stand at around 42%, though in rural areas, it can be as low as 8%. Because her mother insisted on it, Humaira and her sister were the only girls in our neighbourhood who went to school. But at 13, her father wanted her to quit. One day, as she was collecting her school things, he slapped her and told her I couldn’t go. When her mother argued, he hurt her too yet her mother still told her to go. The School began by teaching just 10 children. Humaira went door to door trying to persuade mothers and fathers to allow their daughters to come to class. She was shouted out, called evil and immoral. Neighbours tried to force her family out of their home and there have even been plots to kidnap her. She now has a school which educates 1,200 boys and girls, with a staff of 25. She’s said that she’s most hopeful when she looks at her own family. “My brother’s five daughters are all in school and my father helps motivate other men to educate their own daughters”. Sometimes the battle means changing one mind at a time. And Humaira has changed a lot of minds. Education around the globe is so important for young people and it’s amazing work like this that’s allowing young girls to have a future.
Brushing aside suicide bombings and public scorn, the young women of Afghanistan's first freestyle cycling club hope their pop-a-wheelies, bunnyhops and backflips will trailblaze a new path for future generations in this conservative Muslim nation. Fifteen women, mainly teenagers, are among 50 members of the small Kabul club, established two months ago to help keep young Afghans away from drugs, petty crime and violence. "Most of the time people are harassing us because they see girls cycling as a bad thing," said Zahra Ronna, 18, "We are tired of war and we want to practise new things in our lives.” Ronna and other cyclists gather three times a week at a concrete playground in the capital, using metal tables, wooden crates and boxes to perfect stunts they have seen performed on YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms. For Fatima Mahdawi, another member, the club offers a much-needed escape from violence, "There are lots of problems in this country we live in," she said. "But whenever I come to the club, it gives me huge energy and joy. I feel like I'm flying." It’s an incredible club, filled to the brim with freestyling talent and more importantly, provides a haven from reality.
Sumiko Iwamuro is an 82-year-old dumpling-maker who has been running the family restaurant in Tokyo with her brother for over six decades. But she also moonlights as Sumirock, a techno DJ at the DecaBarZ nightclub in the Shinjuku district. Every month she takes over for an amazing night that everyone loves. Iwamuro got into DJing at age 70 when she was selecting tunes for her son’s birthday party. She’s spent a year in DJ school (what a cool qualification would that be to have?!) learning her new trade and now she is a hit among the younger set in Tokyo. “It’s fundamentally techno music, but just that would be boring, I add jazz, French chanson and a bit of classical music.” Her skill is phenomenal and the energy she brings to the room is something else. We’re so impressed with her. She’s an incredible woman and goes to show that it’s never too late to get into something new, even when that something new is usually reserved for the younger generations!
Have a positive week,
Love Neon Moon x