Mahira Miyanji, a social activist from Karachi, won the N-Peace network award for Untold Stories Pakistan. She is an advocate for girls’ education in Lyari.
N-Peace is a United Nations Development Programme Asia-Pacific flagship initiative founded in 2010 to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. It is a network of peace advocates in Asia who are advancing the women, peace and security agenda through these awards.
She won the award after being voted for by both the public and judges. Around six women from Pakistan were nominated for the award.
Miyanji established the Woman Is A Nation (WIN) welfare organisation in 2013, a platform that provides free of charge education for 125 girls through a system of 12 volunteers. The programme has benefited more than 3,000 girls in Karachi so far.
She dedicated her award to the girls of Lyari who believe in the power of education.
Mahira Miyanji is commended for her dedication to providing and advocating for the #education of #girls in Lyari, Karachi. Learn more about this year’s #NPeaceAward Untold Stories #Pakistan winner: https://t.co/sKIQ7TaRH2 @UNDP_Pakistan #HearMeToo pic.twitter.com/TKFtQO6DNF
— N-Peace Network (@NPeaceNetwork) November 25, 2018
“I started giving tuitions on my rooftop when I was in class 7 along with my sister,” she told SAMAA Digital. “In 2013, youngsters at a festival in Lahore inspired me to do something for my community.”
She discussed the idea with her teacher who gave her an empty storeroom as a space at a coaching centre to start her venture. “I found out that in 2013 that only 17% of girls in Lyari are educated.”
Miyanji said that there are numerous reasons for this — early marriages, financial issues, lack of interest and parents not giving permission are among a few.
She wanted to help girls who are school drop outs or have never attended school. Her organisation set up a school for women to attend free of charge and she is working with political leaders to standardise free education for girls as well.
The activist had requested people to vote for her in September. She was nominated by her mentor and was surprised to received an email that she was shortlisted.
This is the very first time that an activist from Lyari is nominated for an international award. People i need your support. Please spread the words. If you want me to win this award for Pakistan please Go to https://t.co/Ra0EGynbVw and cast your vote! pic.twitter.com/JaS89nmyfE
— Mahira Ahmed Miyanji (@MahiraMiyanji) September 20, 2018
In 2015, she participated in the Emerging Young Women Congress Fellowship programme with the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies. She represented Pakistan at the ‘Beyond Girls Education Global Summit’ in 2017 as well. She has also won the Lyari Youth Icon Award and I Am Karachi Award.