Saheli Circle: Empowering Adolescent Girls in Hunza Valley and Beyond

By: Team IEI

We are excited to share the incredible journey of Saheli Circle, a transformative safe space program dedicated to empowering adolescent girls in the breathtaking Hunza Valley and beyond. 

Launched in 2022 with support from the Malala Fund, Saheli Circle provides a safe haven where girls aged 12-18 can embrace personal growth, forge meaningful friendships, and embark on a path of self-discovery. 40 girls have graduated from the Saheli Circle Life Skills program and more than a 100 have benefitted from the services offered in the space.

Join us as we explore the profound impact of Saheli Circle and the importance of empowering young girls on their unique journeys.

Creating a safe haven for girls

Imagine a nurturing space where girls can freely express themselves, connect with like-minded peers, and explore their true potential. Saheli Circle offers just that—a warm and welcoming physical environment equipped with laptops, internet access, and a library, providing girls with the resources they need to broaden their horizons and unlock their talents.

Empowering girls with life skills

We spoke with 200 girls in 2 different communities in Gilgit Baltistan in 2023 and found that patriarchial norms, stereotypes and biases greatly impact girls wellbeing, access to opportunity, ability to make decisions for themselves and their self-belief. We saw an urgent need to empower girls with some specific skills so they are prepared to face these challenges and when necessary, adapt to them as well. This led to the design of a comprehensive life skills programme rooted in ground context and need. 

Through our Life Skills program, girls at Saheli Cirlce delve into topics such as building self-esteem, problem-solving, decision-making, social-emotional learning, and cultivating a growth mindset. Running the programme with 40 girls we have witnessed that when girls learn these skills and how to use them daily, they become better equipped to face obstacles with confidence and resilience. Girls are able to gain the confidence to discover their own capabilities, speak up for themselves, and resist societal pressures. These skills empower them to chart a new course in life, one that aligns with their aspirations and challenges the limitations that may be imposed upon them.

A goal setting activity ion progress as part of our Growth Mindset LifeSkills theme.
What the girls say about their experience.

“My behavior at home is much more positive than before. I try to implement the things I learn here, in my everyday life. When I have to seek permission from parents for something I want or need, I use ‘I statements’ and it is making it easier for me to get permission for things at home.”

(Neha, Saheli Circle 12-14 age group)

“I used to have less friends and I used to wonder if something I do is not right which makes people not like me. But after attending the Saheli Circle sessions I am now able to make and manage friendships better. I am able to read the non verbal cues, empathise with them and this is making things easier for me.”

(Mohina, Saheli Circle 12-14 age group)

Guidance & Mentorship

Mentorship lies at the heart of Saheli Circle, providing girls with invaluable guidance and support. Our dedicated mentors share their expertise, knowledge, and personal experiences, serving as role models and sources of inspiration. Through personalized one-on-one interactions and group sessions, girls receive tailored mentorship that helps them navigate challenges, make informed decisions, set meaningful goals, and realize their full potential.

Graduation Ceremony for Sahelis, July 2023

Celebrating Success & Expanding Horizons

We are immensely proud of Saheli Circle’s achievements in its inaugural round of programs in Hunza for girls aged 12-18. Witnessing the personal growth, resilience, and self-belief of these girls has been truly inspiring. Building on this success, we are  thrilled to announce the expansion of Saheli Circle to the Ghizer District in Gilgit Baltistan, reaching more deserving girls and making a broader impact.

The Saheli Circle program is a powerful force for change, nurturing the dreams and aspirations of adolescent girls in the Hunza Valley and now the Ghizer District. By providing a safe space, fostering life skills, nurturing leadership potential, and offering mentorship, Saheli Circle empowers these young girls to thrive and become leaders of tomorrow. 

Join us in supporting Saheli Circle as we continue to empower and uplift these incredible young girls on their unique journeys. If you wish to become a Saheli Circle Mentor, run small workshops or donate to Saheli Circles reach out to us at: or whatsApp us at: 03143596116. 

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