Education Champion Network

Areebah Shahid

Executive Director, Pakistan Youth Change Advocates Champion since 2017
“The moment our government begins prioritising girls' education, the impact would be huge and it would be quick.”
Advocating to increase education spending through youth-led campaigns and meetings with policymakers

The Issue

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, there are about 1.6 million girls out of school, more than twice the number of out-of-school boys. Because the government allocates less money to girls’ education than boys’ education, there are only 10,802 schools and colleges for girls in the province compared to 16,980 for boys. This disparity increases after primary school and in communities outside of urban centres.

Areebah’s approach

Community Advocacy

Despite financial constraints and relatives’ efforts to force Areebah into an early marriage, her mother made sure she completed her education. Inspired by that example, Areebah has dedicated her career to fighting for the rights of others. As an education activist, content developer and broadcaster, she has written extensively on gender-based violence, children’s rights and sexual and reproductive health. Now the executive director of Pakistan Youth Change Advocates (PYCA), Areebah leads the organisation’s work helping young people in Pakistan create positive change in their communities.

With her Malala Fund grant, Areebah runs a youth-led advocacy campaign in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to get public support for the government to allocate more resources to girls’ education. Areebah and PYCA also meet with leaders to discuss implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which provides for 10 years of free education for every child, expanding the RTE Act to 12 years and increasing the budget for girls’ education.

Areebah’s impact

In 2019, Areebah and PYCA met with the president of Pakistan, the former finance minister and the education minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Following the meeting with the education minister, the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa diverted 70% of the 2019-20 education development budget to girls’ education to improve existing schools and establish more girls’ secondary schools.

In 2019, PYCA youth activists developed community campaigns in Peshawar, Nowshera, Swabi, Mansehra, Abbottabad and Lower Dir districts. Through flyers, press releases, a press conference and media coverage, they encouraged parents to send their daughters to school ahead of the new academic year.

More about Areebah

Website: PYCA
Twitter: @AreebahShahid
Organization's Facebook: Pakistan Youth Change Advocates
Organization's Twitter: @PYCAPk

There are 11 other Education Champions working in Pakistan.