This International Women's Day, we're championing women like Kausar, who overcame family expectations to learn to read and write. It was our pleasure to play a role in the literacy lessons that changed her life.
Kausar* knows how it feels to be marginalised, restricted, overlooked. Growing up in a village in northern Pakistan, there was no school, and her parents banned her from receiving an education. She was needed to work at home, so she never learned to read or write.
This meant Kausar never knew how well her children were doing at school because she was unable to read their grades. She never paid the family bills on time because she couldn’t read the due date. She said it was like ‘being blind’.
I came into light from darkness
Then a nearby church started running our literacy class. Initially, the men in her family banned Kausar from going. That’s common in a culture where men believe they ‘own’ women. But the tutors talked them round. Kausar became the first adult literacy student in her village – and life began to change, for good.
‘Now I am able to read and write,’ said Kausar. ‘I can do small counting, I can read utility bills and when we travel I know when we’ve arrived because I can read sign boards.
‘I feel I came into light from darkness – and I’m not blind anymore.’
Find out about how you can support our literacy work and empower more women like Kausar.
* name changed to protect identity