I love a positive news story about women, particularly one that highlights the bravery and persistence individuals exude in the face of systemic institutional discrimination.
CNN profiles Rukhsana Batool, a 25 year old mother of three in Pakistan, who has enrolled in the first grade. This is Rukhsana’s first time going to school, as her parents forbade her from pursuing education growing up.
This refusal of schooling is unfortunately not unique. CNN explains:
Hard-line religious groups here say women’s education is un-Islamic and frequently warn families not to send their girls to school once they reach puberty.
The Taliban have bombed and set fire to hundreds of schools, most of them for girls, just a few hours from where Batool lives.
The Pakistani government is nowhere near rebuilding them.
Even in some of Pakistan’s more moderate rural areas parents often refuse to send their daughters to school with boys. Millions of teenage girls end up working at home or getting married.
Recent studies show only four out of 10 Pakistani women can read and write — a literacy rate that ranks among the worst in the world.
Every day, Rukhsana accompanies her two sons to school and sits beside them to learn the same lessons. She is a woman who defies rampant social limitations to live her dream, not only for her personal benefit, but also in the hopes that it will inspire other Pakistani women to go to school and that the government will invest more in women’s education. What else could you want in a shero?
As a privileged Westerner who has had 20+ years of schooling, Ruhksana’s story serves as a reminder not to take for granted the many, many opportunities available to me. High-five for Ruhksana!