In January, 2018, the world's social media exploded with sorrow and grief over the rape and murder of 7-year-old Zainab Ansari in Kasur, Pakistan. Zainab is not the first victim of a crime like this. Not only is the rape and murder of women and girls common around the world, six cases of other girls, just like Zainab, living on the same street as her, have had this happen to them. When the two of us read this story, we were filled with grief. We felt helpless, and did not know what to do. What had the world come to? What can we do to help? We wanted to come up with a solution that would prevent cases like this from happening in the future. That's when the Shine Project came in.
In Pakistan, (and the same can be said about other countries) the problem does not often lie in laws, it lies in the implementation of them. The law can only be enforced to a certain extent, and when it comes down to incidents regarding rape, cultural taboos come into play and the incident is not reported. That is why we believe that the change needs to come in the education of children and societal taboos that prevent the laws from being implemented. That is the purpose of the Shine Project. It is an educational toolkit that teaches children the skills and knowledge they need to protect themselves from these incidents, and to not be the perpetrators themselves.
This toolkit includes lesson plans, activity descriptions and informational readings that teachers can use within their classrooms. The activities in this toolkit are meant to be done in order, so that the whole class can go through a complete educational plan that ranges from broad topics and lessons to ones that are specific to safety and protecting themselves in difficult situations. For this toolkit to be effective, it is vital for the lessons to be done in order. That way, students will be able to learn the important lessons from this toolkit in a way that isn't too odd or different from other lessons they learn on a regular basis.
The Toolkit is currently under the review, and will first be implemented in our village in Pakistan in 2019, when we will return to the place where we first started our work with Girls' Education. We will start there, and hopefully expand to other schools around the country and eventually around the world, with a curriculum that is always evolving and changing according to new research, studies and with more experience.