Girls Write the Future – An organisation established by former pupil, Kian Akhavan.
Kian Akhavan, a former pupil at St Edward’s, writes about his pending charity, Girls Write the Future:
Why Girls Write the Future
Despite the widespread acceptance of gender equality in principle – and the advancement of political and civil rights for women in many countries – full equality has not yet been achieved. The full and equal participation of women in all spheres of life is essential to social and economic development, the abolition of war, and the ultimate establishment of a peaceful world. The equality of the sexes is therefore a cornerstone of human development and prosperity.
The education of girls is particularly important because, although both parents have responsibilities for the rearing of children, it is through educated mothers that the benefits of knowledge can be most effectively diffused throughout society.
Age-old patterns of subordination, reflected in popular culture, law, literature and art continue to pervade every aspect of life. Despite the advancement of political and civil rights for women in the West, and the widespread acceptance of equality in principle, full equality has not yet been achieved.
Men, therefore, have an inescapable duty to promote the equality of women. The destructive effects of inequality prevent men from maturing and developing the qualities necessary to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
The denial of education to half of the world’s population is an impediment to the progress of humanity. This inequality cannot be justified on moral, biological, or traditional grounds.
How it began
In the summer of 2014, I spent a month in rural Kenya as part of an international team of young volunteers. There we visited a local primary school and our work was to help build a secondary school and spend time learning about the local community. What struck me as unusual was that the number of boys attending secondary school was much higher than girls.
In many countries across the world, including Kenya, girls are taken out of school at a young age and expected to marry or dedicate themselves to household chores. This can be due to lack of funds but often also deep-seated cultural and religious beliefs. This inequality has ramifications beyond the life of the villages and hinders the progress of society as a whole.
Needless to say, the trip changed my life and I learned many insights I would not otherwise have considered. It’s now up to the youth to take the first steps towards building equality for the betterment of the society we live in. Girls Write the Future is committed to giving girls equal access to education so they can write their own future. In this way, both men and women can progress equally for the betterment of the world.
Girls Write the Future at Teddies
On 27th February, St Edward’s had the privilege of hosting an evening with two phenomenal women, namely Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr Shirin Ebadi and Order of Canada award-winning journalist Sally Armstrong. Both have impressive, long-standing track records in the field of human rights, and both have braved impossible impediments to achievement. They shared their stories and experiences with us and helped to provide what was a very memorable evening. Our sincerest thanks to both for attending.
Credit: Peter Bregg
Human rights activist, journalist and award-winning author Sally Armstrong has covered stories about women and girls in zones of conflict all over the world. From Bosnia and Somalia to the Middle East, Rwanda, Congo and Afghanistan and Iraq, her eye witness reports have earned her awards including the Gold Award from the National Magazine Awards Foundation and the Author’s Award from the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters. She received the Amnesty International Media Award in 2000, 2002 and again in 2011. She is the recipient of nine honorary doctorate degrees and is a Member of the Order of Canada.
Of Girls Write the Future, Sally says, “Educated girls contribute to reducing poverty, cutting conflict and improving the economy, so Girls Write the Future is an organisation I applaud.”
Keynote Title: Here Come the Girls: Their Power is Personal
Copyright, Shirin Ebadi
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr Shirin Ebadi became the first Iranian to win the Prize in 2003 for her work defending people being persecuted by the authorities. Having been Iran’s first female judge, Ebadi was dismissed following the Iranian Revolution in 1979. She went on to open a legal practice giving guidance, council and defence to those suffering persecution under the regime. In 2000 she was imprisoned in Iran for her open criticism of the authorities and the nature of the political construct. She has worked to establish many organisations focusing on human rights, especially the rights of women and children, and has championed these fundamental rights throughout her life’s work.
A note of thanks
I would like to pay particular thanks to those who made the launch possible: to Mr Michael Palau (OSE) and the School’s Alumni Association, the St Edward’s Society, for their generous financial contributions and support; to Ms Rebecca Ting, the School’s Development Director, for her support and guidance; and to the Warden, my former Housemaster, Mr Faulkner, and Ms Picknett, all of whose support, advice, and encouragement were invaluable to me.