Saheli Circles: Learning spaces
for girls in resource-limited contexts

The need

Nestled in the mountains and off the main roads, the remote and low-resource mountain communities in Gilgit Baltistan are primarily reliant on farming, livestock and tourism for their income. The marginalisation in these communities disproportionately affects young girls and their access to education. In addition to helping out with home chores and looking after younger siblings, girls in these communities participate in farming and also take on shepherd duties.

The quality of education available fails to equip them with the skills to succeed in the future. In public schools, where the most marginalised turn to for an education, there are next to no opportunities for hands-on learning and development of critical skills. Only a handful of remote public schools have access to digital resources as basic as computers, and even fewer are equipped with teachers trained to make effective use of these resources and create learning environments conducive to support holistic child development.

Outside schools and the religious centres, girls and women have extremely limited access to community spaces where they can meet to explore ideas, learn together, support each other in overcoming learning difficulties, and exercise their agency. We summarise our findings from pre-existing research and our own discussions with marginalized communities in 4 key need areas where attention is required to enable girls with the skills and tools for success:

idea
Space to network & explore ideas

Lack of access to a safe
physical space for girls and women to come together, learn and explore ideas is one of the key barriers in helping them develop the skills and knowledge that they need to succeed in
their educational, personal
and professional pursuits.

skill
21st
Century Skills

Complete disconnect from
21st century skills is putting
girls in mountain valleys
at an alarming risk of missing
out on opportunities for
success despite completing
their education.

women
Mentorship

There is high ambition and drive to pursue educational and professional goals but very little or no guidance for girls to make informed decisions that account for their best interests.

leadership
Voice & Leadership

Although women are involved in all kinds of community activities in these valleys, there is still a lack of value and platforms
for their voice and leadership abilities, which prevents them from advocating for their
own rights and opportunities.

A middle school girl during a collage work activity, 2016

Our Vision: Saheli Circles

To establish girl-led safe spaces & programmes in remote, resource-limited areas that enable girls between ages 12-22 with the skills to achieve personal and academic success. The spaces aim to provide a girl-run safe platform to come together, learn, collaborate, discover their voice, while simultaneously creating a community ecosystem that supports girls in achieving personal and academic success.

What are Saheli Circles?​

Saheli Circles is IEI Pakistan’s partnership with the Malala Fund to establish young women-led safe learning spaces for girls in marginalised, low-income and low-technology mountain communities. To ensure these spaces truly become support systems for girls to complete their education and pursue their dreams, they will offer various skills trainings, leadership and mentorship opportunities.

Our Approach

Expanding on our vision for IEI libraries, these learning spaces focus on tackling inadequate learning opportunities and creating a community ecosystem that supports girls from remote areas in completing their education. Saheli Circles aim to provide mentorship to girls in a safe and nurturing learning environment, build teacher capacity in digital and gender-responsive skills and mobilise men and boys in communities to support girls’ education.

  • Human Centered design study

    A qualitative research study in potential partner communities to understand the challenges faced by girls, the needs and feasibility of Saheli Circles.

  • Programme Design

    Design of programmes suited to address the contextual challenges faced by girls presently and needs identified by girls and communities. (We are here!)

  • Curriculum & Resource Development

    Design and development of an interactive activity based curriculum with supporting resources that enable programme replication.

  • Launch pilot programme

    Launch of pilot programme

Get Involved

Want to get involved? We are looking to partner with individuals and organisations for our programme’s execution. If you have any ideas or proposals for activities or trainings for girls in Saheli Circles, reach out to us today at [email protected]