Pakistan: Undaunted by unjust criticism, Maryam Bibi's efforts for girls & women reach new heights Print E-mail
 Pakistan -- December 31 2006, Zill-Haj 9, 1427 A.H.

Against all odds


Maryam Bibi, who hails from a backward part of NWFP, was one of the 29 women nominees from Pakistan for the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2005. She is working to improve the female literacy rate at a time when a number of threats have forced the authorities to close down a girls school in Darra Adamkhel. In June last year, one of the schools, run by Maryam in tribal Landi Kotal, came under attack but she is undeterred and committed to her cause.

Maryam Bibi established the Khwendo Kor (Sister's Home) in 1993 along with some of her friends. The aim was to improve the literacy rate among females and encourage the girls of the remotest tribal areas to go to for formal schooling. Since the formation of the organisation, Maryam Bibi has worked for establishing 170 Community Based Primary Schools for Girls. Some 7,000 students have passed out, 6,500 of whom were girls. Currently, some 3,500 girls are enrolled and regularly attending school. Besides, 10 Adult Literacy Centres have been established for women with some 200 learners currently enrolled. The simple, humble-looking Maryam Bibi has so far imparted training to over 180 village based women teachers, training 140 female and 150 male Village Education Committees to manage and supervise the schools.

Maryam who has been awarded UN Recognition of Services Award 2000, Human Rights Award 2001, National Civil Awards of Pakistan, Sitar-i-Imtiaz 2001 and, Fatima Jinnah Award 2003, has so far trained over 80 traditional birth attendants who are now providing hygiene and skilled services in their local villages. She has spread her network to over 240 villages. Maryam is facing staunch criticism from her region's radical rulers as a promoter of western agenda.