Millions of girls around the world are being denied an education. In Pakistan, women with a primary education earn 51% what men earn. With a secondary education, they earn 70% what men earn. Not only that but over three million girls in Pakistan are not in school. This frightening statistic is plaguing developing countries globally.
Advocating for girl’s education has become a priority in the Western hemisphere. Shoaib Rizvi is a 4th year Western University student studying Media, Information and Technoculture. He was born in Karachi, Pakistan and is now fighting for gender equality in Pakistan from right here in London.
Rizvi created his own organization to help promote gender equality and offer educational opportunities for girl’s in Pakistan. “I started giving out loans from my own savings and I didn’t know it would turn into a micro-loans program and since then it has been growing. Women have been returning loans and more and more students have been getting involved. The main thing that it comes down to is that everyone has a chance to prove something of themselves.”
Continuing his advocacy work and raising his voice, Rizvi set his sights high aiming at working with the United Nations. “I just applied to the UN Youth Assembly with the intention to get the knowledge, to forge relationships, all those things in order to advance my work in gender equality in Pakistan.”
Not only did Rizvi beat over 1,000 other applicants, he received grant money to use towards his organization. He also earned the opportunity to address Prime Ministers and Presidents from the podium. With all his earned success, Rizvi remains humble, “I think the award I received was not because of my efforts, it’s because of the women’s efforts in Pakistan. The kind of belief that they have in their own potential to change the destiny of themselves and their families was a huge part of this journey.
This issue is personal for Rizvi. Growing up in Pakistan, he saw firsthand the inequalities within its society. From going on to be a UN Youth delegate to winning Outstanding Youth Delegate for the Youth Assembly at the United Nations to speaking at TedXWesternU, Rizvi is ready for his future, advocating for women.
“No matter your socioeconomic class, everyone has equal opportunities, but the kind of social inequalities in Pakistan is growing day by day. From me over here in Canada, I have seen for myself how my mother and I have been a recipient of the kind of policies that are here to include everyone, so I want to do the same thing for women in Pakistan. I believe when you are given more, you have a responsibility to give back to the people who need it.”
Shoaib Rizvi has his goals set on continuing his work for women’s education and equality in Pakistan. He says change cannot come just from him. Change comes from the collective society. “Young people have the potential to create change in their own communities and no one should think that we are not ready right now, that this is the work you have to do at a certain age or educational background. No one can stop you from taking small actions and I think everyone can take those small actions in order to achieve bigger goals.”